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        Full text of "<a href="/details/rockvalleycolleg02na">Rock Valley College student local history research, Fall 2001</a>"
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    <pre>Digitized by the Internet Archive 
in 2013 

Historic Local Site Essays 

English Composition 101 
Rock Valley College 

Fall 2001 Semester 

• ■ ' . 

Contents of Fall 2001 English 101 Historic Sites 

Amcore/Swedish-American Bank 

Anna-Page Park 

Argyle, IL 

Beyer Stadium 

Black Hawk Park 

Boone County Fair 

Camp Grant 

Davis Park 

Devil's Lake - Wisconsin 

Dunton Home - Belvidere 

Edwards Apple Orchard 

Erlander Home and Museum 

First Assembly of God Church 

First Congregational Community Church - Roscoe 

Goldie's Tattoo Parlor on Broadway 

Goodwill Industries - Kishwaukee Street 

Harlem High School 

High Maintenance Solon - Victorian Village 

Illinois Railway Museum - Union, IL 

Jefferson High School 

Jewish Community Center 

Kirkland, IL 

Lake-Peterson Home 

Levings Lake Park 

Lucius Reed House - Byron 

Memorial Hall 

On the Waterfront Festival 

Pond's Funeral Home 

Riverside Bridge 

Rockford Seminary 

Seton Center 

Shorewood Park 

Sportsman's Club - Roscoe 

Stone School - Rockton 

Stronghold Castle - Oregon 

Time Museum 

Toad Hall 

Wheeler/Bushnell Home - South Beloit 

YMCA - Rockford 

Swedish American Bank to Amcore Bank 

Sandra Hawthorne 

Fall Semester 2001 

Rock Valley College 

English Composition I 

Sandra Hawthorne 
English 101 NCE1 
26 November 2001 

Swedish American National Bank to Amcore Bank 

In this day and age there are a lot of banks to choose from. If a person was back 
in the late 1900s, one of the main banks that was popular was Rockford Swedish 
American Bank. The community praised it, but that may have been because the Swedish 
made up the population of Rockford during this time. 

The Swedes originally founded Swedish American Bank. In the early 1850s the Swedes 
came to Rockford to take jobs in farming and manufacturing. They came to the city in 
huge numbers. By the mid 1870s they were mainly the ones who made up the population 
of Rockford, around 3500 people at the time (Wyatt, 5 February 2001). 

By 1891 persons of Swedish lineage numbered a third of the population of 
Rockford and the number of enterprises they controlled numbered 145. Most business 
was concentrated along Seventh Street. 

Even with all the things going on in the world, the bank directors still thought the 
need for a new facility was great. In 1908 began the first efforts to establish a bank for 
the Seventh Street 

On August 1, 1910 Swedish American Bank opened in a rented storefront 
building at 508 7 th Street. Ebenezer W. Engstrom obtained the application for a bank 
charter; the process would take him and the other businessmen 14 14 months to get it on 
its way. 

Two years after its founding, the years deposits had risen from just under a half 
million dollars in 1913 to 1.16 million. So this prompted construction of a new fi\c-stor\ 


building on the southwest corner of Seventh Street and Fourth Ave., which had been the 
site of the first commercial building on Seventh St. 32 years before, the new bank 
building would cost $100,000. In an amazing act of confidence during the height of the 
Depression, Swedish American held on, but was greatly affected. 

Swedish American actually expanded to an adjacent site. This expansion added six teller 
windows and 4,500 square feet of useable space (Wyatt, 5 February 2001 ). 

Swedish American National Bank brought to the Rockford area a lovely edifice. 
There were major differences from the Amcore of today verses the Swedish American 
Bank of the 1900's. It is seven floors and much more spacious and elegant. 

The architect firm of Peterson &amp; Johnson of Rockford is responsible for the fine 
lines of the structure. The main banking room has a nineteen-foot ceiling and is about 
hundred feet in length. 

The fixtures throughout are mahogany and marble. The check desks in the center 
of the corridor have marble with glass tops. On the walls the panels have Greek borders. 

One feature of the bank that attracted a great deal of attention is the huge vault 
located at the west end of the main room. The massive round door is ornamental despite 
its weight of twenty tons. Inside there are two thousand safety deposit boxes, which is 
divided by a steel partition, which separates the safety department from that used by the 
bank currency. In the back of that area are rooms for the books of the bank and the 

The new Swedish American bank building was erected in 1917 at a cosl of 
$100,000 and the officials justly felt that sum has been expended w ith the inmost care 
and precision. 


In 1936, the Seventh Street bank expanded space by fifty percent. This was done 
to better serve the public. The store building adjacent to the bank at 7 th Street and 4 th 
Avenue was connected with the former banking room and was completely remodeled. 
Besides the additions of six new teller windows to the bank, adequate space was provided 
for the trust department (Swedish American Bank, Rockfordiana Files). 

In 1945 officers of the Swedish American National Bank of Rockford announced 
that the 7 th St. banking institution had changed its name to American National Bank and 
Trust Company. Its shareholders and officers made this change. The name by which it 
had been known had given the bank a local character, and to overcome this and to 
identify the institution with all of Rockford the change in name was made, this would 
give the bank a wider identification. The words "and Trust Company" had been added to 
emphasize the fact that the bank offers the services of a well-organized, competent trust 

Another remodeling of the bank took place in 1954. A new building was erected 
in place of the older structure south of the corner and the corner location was renovated to 
become one in style with the entire building. Floor space has been increased three times 
and 5000 new safety deposit boxes are being installed. Modem IBM accounting and 
bookkeeping machines have been installed. 

An open house marked the bank's 50 th anniversary in October 1 960. More than 
10,000 people visited the bank during an 1 1-hour open house. 

"It has been unbelievable; just tremendous; far above all our 
expectations, according to Leroy E. Liljedahl, Bank President" 
(Swedish American Bank, Rockfordiana Files). 


In 1976 a huge Eagle, red brass and copper, reminded Rockford residents of their 
heritage. It was added to the wall of the bank. It weighed 2000 pounds and measured 24 

American National Bank under went another move in 1983. 

In the new building the safety deposit boxes were installed in a huge vault that 
swallowed the contents of the old vault without even appearing crowded. The bank used 
the first three floors of the seven-story building. A private club occupied the seventh 
floor (City Club), but the fifth and sixth floor were available for use. The architects for 
this building were Larson and Darby Inc. With Jeff Bell being a musician, he recalls 
when the City Club was on the seventh floor of the bank and they would have birthday 
and anniversary celebrations there. He did have an opportunity to perform with a 
saxophone player named Giles Jefferson during a First Night celebration on New Year's 
Eve at the club. 

American National Bank and Illinois National Bank merged creating the eighth 
largest bank in Illinois in 1985. The merger created a bank with $700 million dollars in 
assets, the largest in Illinois outside Cook County and by far the largest bank in 

"The resulting bank will. . .be better able to compete with money 
center banks in Chicago, Milwaukee, and New York for local 
Commercial business." (Swedish American Bank, Rockfordiana Files). 


American National and Illinois National closed the doors for the last time in 
November 1985. It reopened, but as one new institution AMCORE Bank N.A. Rockford. 
Amcore was the name of the combined institutions. The choice of name signaled the 
direction of the new bank, according to William Morris, public relations counsel for the 
parent company Americorp Financial Inc. (Swedish American Bank, Rocfordiana Files). 

While AMCORE sounds like an abbreviation of Americorp, Morris said the 
association is accidental. The "Am" comes from American National and "Core" was 
intended to connote the Midwest, heartlands. 

Amcore reached $1 billion in assets in 1991(Wyatt, 17 March 2000). With this 
came the opening of branches every where, such as, South Beloit, Roscoe, Sterling, Rock 
Falls, Mount Morris, Carpentersville, Woodstock, and Crystal Lake, just to mention a 
few. Then there was the opening of branches within the grocery stores (Cub Foods in 
1994 and Hilander in 1995). 

How is it working for Amcore for 20 years, according to Jeff Bell, who has been 
with the bank since 1981? He has been through a lot of changes good and bad. He started 
out at the Seventh Street branch as a teller and he has worked with many dedicated 
employees. He says that the Seventh Street area has always represented the best of 
Rockford and the worst of Rockford. Many well-known businesses were represented 
such as: Guler Appliance, Martin Gustafsons, Nicholason's Hardware, the Yalkomen 
Plaza, and many small business like Sparkle Cleaners and 7 th Street Liquor, which made 
up their local regular clientele. They used to offer refreshments or monthly birthday 
celebrations downstairs; they all use to dread that time of the month. 1 [e says he cnio\ s 
working with everyone, but David Knapp, President and Tom Olson. VP Officer lca\ e a 


lasting memory and made it enjoyable working at Amcore. They both have integrity 
about themselves they knew how to treat the customers regardless of their status with 
Amcore without compromising their level of standards. 

The most noticeable innovation has been the creation of a personal banking 
department within the bank's retail division, which handles and markets individual 
accounts. The concept will make the bank facilities far more profitable and will remove 
the layers that customers have to go through. 

Luann Smith, who has worked for Amcore since 1982, says her longevity is due 
to the people she works with now. The new management throughout the years made 
some of the changes a hard transition to deal with sometimes. One of the people she says 
she enjoyed working along side was Mr. Edward Abegg, President. He was always 
working side by side with his employees. 

As far as the community of Rockford is concerned, the changes of the building 
were the best thing for everyone. 

In May 1993, the bank put $14 million into projects around the 7 th St. 
headquarters. The money paid for two building expansions, a parking lot and a new 
computer system for the Data Center within the next two or three years. 2.2 million will 
pay for construction and the rest will pay for the new computers. 

The Rockford-based bank company completed its acquisition of First National 
Bancorp of Monroe, Wis., expanding its operations across state lines for the fust time. 
The interstate banking move is historic, CEO Robert Mueleman said, and also boosted 
Amcore Financial assets from about 2.8 billion to 3 billion (Amcore Bank. Rockfordiana 
Files). In 1994 they purchased First State Bancorp, Princeton. Illinois. 


Taking a look at what is now Amcore, as you enter through the revolving doors, 
to the right are the elevators and an ATM machine. Straight ahead, thru the second set of 
glass doors, there is an escalator in the center leading to the 2 nd floor. To the right of the 
escalators is the receptionist desk. Directly behind the desk, hangs a large antique clock. 
Behind the receptionist desk is the teller line, which has stone colored rocks on the wall. 
There are about nine teller windows that are made of wood and the check desk is made of 
wood and stone marble. This is were customers can write out their deposit and 
withdrawal slips. There to the left, behind the check desk, is the customer service area 
and the personal bankers are located to the right of the escalators. Also on this floor are 
the Ambassador Club Representatives and Investment Department. All of this is located 
on the first floor of the seven-story building. 

With all the new technology of today, the computers, the different machines, 
calculators, and processing machines, things were definitely different from the banking 
done in the 1900s. There were hand- written receipts, and everything was done by hand. 

Swedish American Bank started out as one bank and then a drive-up window and 
has since grown into 14 branches locally with various banking hours. 

Now it offers the customers 24-hour banking (limited things), with online banking 
services and 24-hour telephone access to checking information. Customers can transfer 
money from one account to another or make payments on their loans or mortgages. 
Amcore also offers check safekeeping, which stores the front and back of canceled 
checks on microfilm for seven years. Some customers like the concept and others prefer 
to keep receiving their checks. Amcore has numerous services to offer their customers, 


such as Amcore Investment Group, Amcore Mortgage, Inc., Amcore Consumer Finance 
Co., and Amcore Insurance Group. 

It has grown form a small staff to a large staff (around 1400) of well-trained 
individuals in all aspects of the banking world. 

This writer recalls when she first started working for Amcore. She had no 
banking experience so all the banking lingo was new to her. She has been working at 
Amcore for almost three years and has witnessed all the new technology for herself. 

Amcore is untouched by the merger storm. The Rockford-based AMCORE 
Financial Inc., the largest locally owned bank company, remains unwed — despite being 
listed as ripe for a takeover since at least 1998. According to bank CEO Robert 
Mueleman, "If we wanted to be sold, we could have been sold a long time ago, but we 
prefer to stay independent. What we're doing is trying to make ourselves a better 

Compared to the other banks in the community being sold and bought, Amcore 
has only endured minor changes and is always growing. 

AMCORE meets the challenges and adapts to them. There is no better symbol of 
the adaptation than Amcore's headquarters building, which stands within a block of that 
first building where those neighbors founded their bank long ago. From that center, 
Amcore ranges outward and onward. It is many companies, and one company. It is 
changing with the world, and it honors its roots and origins (Wyatt 30 October 2000). 

Sandra Hawthorne 
English 101 NCE1 
26 November 2001 

Works Cited 

Amcore. About Amcore-Who We Are. 

Amcore Bank, Rockfordiana Files, Rockford Public Library. Reference Section No 

Bell, Jeffery. Personal Interview. 2 November 200 1 ., The Year 1917, 4 October 2001 . 
Swedish American National Bank, Rockfordiana Files, Rockford Public Library 
Ross, Elizabeth Ann, American National Bank and Trust Co. 1956. 
Smith, LuAnn, Personal Interview. 2 November 2001. 
Swedish American National Bank, Rockfordiana Files, Rockford Public Library 

Reference Section. No Date. 
Wyatt, Craig. History Draft. Swedish American National Bank. 30 October 2000. 
Wyatt, Craig. History Draft. Amcore Bank. 5 February 200 1 . 
Wyatt, Craig. Amcore Timeline. 17 March 2001. 

AMCORE Financial Inc. , 

Earnings for the three months ended Dec\ 

31, 1991, and for year-end:^, __^\ '"( 

Net interest income 

Fourth quarter: 

1991: $14.1 million V ; 
,1990: $12.6 million- &gt;■■ . ; . 

Percent change: 1.1.5 • 


1991: $54.5 million " ..•..':: 
': '. 1990: $49.2 million . -' • 

Percent change: 10.7 „ ;•■■■..,, 

Net income • ' 

, Fourth quarter: . 
: • 1991: $3.04 million ' 

1990: $1.5 million ^ ""? - \r ;&lt; 

Percent change: 100.5 ' , 

Year-end: ':.'.' 

1991: $10.7 million-. ' &gt; -. . . 

1990: $8.8 million ,' V 

Percent change: 21.7 ' 
Nef income per common share 

Fourth quarter: V; ; 
; r - 1991: 49 cents ;■• . '. . ' 
,1990: 24 cents ■ . - 

" Percent change: 104.2 -\. 

Year-end: * 
"V 1991: $1.72 '. ';.•-.."•.?' .. • ... 
'•V: ; \ 1990: $1.35 .;:..:.:.:*&lt;•. »,.. «...:•.;.:&gt;. .. L 
'• Percent change: 27.4 ' ',-,. 

Robert J. Meuleman, president and CEO of AMCORE Financial Inc., pauses inside 
the Seventh Street offices of the bank in Rockford. j. 

Swedish- American National Bank carried 
^ on business in this storefront building 
for the first six years of its existence 


The now bank building as it Looked 

at it s cotnpl et i on in 1 V M " . 

The main entrance of the new 
bank building (1917) . 

Seventh St. at 
Fourth Ave. look- 
ing North in 1925. 
Bank building is 
on left. 

"■'' ' » j |-| H ■ 111 ',1 

\\mrmm ... • &amp; 

1 H 

^ ^ 

Interior of main lobby 
after the 1936 remod- 
eling and expansion. 

View of the newly re- 
modeled lobby in 1954 
showing the streamlining 
effect of modern design. 


VUA**rfi*S &amp;• 

^ (G~J&gt;*~*« 

From Beginning to Beauty: 
Anna -Page Park 

Shakila Davis 
Fall Semester 2001 -Rock Valley College 
English Composition I 

Shakila Davis 

English 101 Section DT2 

23 November 2001 

From Beginning to Beauty: Anna -Page Park 

Anna-Page Park, one of Rock-ford's, most beautiful parks, took several years 
and overcame obstacles to become established. It has been a part of the city 
for over 70 years. Several people played many different parts in creating Anna- 
Page Park. Some of these people donated land, and others bought land. The 
main purpose for creating the park was to have a place for families in the 
surrounding area to come and enjoy nearby recreation, and to preserve nature's 
beauty ("Park Board Secures...."). 

The park is located on the northwest side of Rockford. The first things 
noticed upon entering the park are the many evergreen trees. There are several 
rows of trees throughout different sections of the park bunched together, 
looking as though each section is a huge forest. Depending on the time of year, 
the leaves may have different colors. In the spring, the leaves are budding tips 
of each branch, ready to burst out into the fresh spring breeze. In the summer, 
the leaves are a deep forest-green color, almost as if someone colored a picture 
with crayons pressing hard to get the deepest green possible. The evergreen's 
fall leaves change colors to either orange or red. This is the best time of year 

Davis- 2 

to visit the park. With the many different colors, it is as if you are lost in a 
beautiful painting that is hanging on the wall in an art gallery ("Fall Tree 

There are many open fields of grass with several tables for families to have 
picnics, or play field games. In one of the fields, there is a game called Frisbee 
Golf. The park has goals set-up throughout this field. The goals are short poles 
with linked chains attached at the top. The concept of this game is to get the 
Frisbee to land between the chains in each goal ("Enjoying Frisbee Golf"). The 
park also has a sheltered area, only available though the Rockford Park District. 
This is located in the beginning of the park. It is very useful for family 
gatherings, for instance, family reunions, or parties. The shelter has picnic 
tables lined up in several rows next to each other. It also has barbecue grills 
set out if someone does not own one. The writer can recall spending several 
summer holidays with her family having picnics, playing baseball games, and 
having many barbecues. "These memories will stay with me for the rest of my 
life," says the writer (Davis Personal interview). 

Further into the park, there is a small creek (Kent's Creek) on the left side. 
It is very shallow. Jennifer Vanderwaal says, "I remember my favorite aspect of 
the park was the bubbling little creek with its crystal clear water and soft sandy 
bottom" ("Bubbling Creek"). Halfway in the middle of the creek there is a small 

Davis- 3 

cemented area just underneath the water to cross to the other side. Children 
play in this area and wade to the other side of the creek ("Wading in the 
Creek"). On this side, there are several tall trees bunched together making it 
look like a huge forest. Shakila Davis states, "As a child walking through the tall 
trees, it felt as though I were 'Hansel and Gretel', from the story book, trying 
to find their way back home." 

Next, about halfway through the park is a playground. In the park's first 
beginnings, the playground's swings, slides, and bridges were wood and metal. 
Today, the playground is made of a durable plastic and metal. The color scheme 
is in primary colors: red, green, yellow, and blue making it very bright and 
colorful. There are slides, swings, bars, and bridges for children to run, jump, 
and play on. 

Anna-Page Park today is very beautiful and well kept, but it took many years 
to achieve this beauty. The Rockford Park District bought the first acres of 
land for $21,600 in 1929 from Fred H. Smith, a local attorney. Clarence T. 
Pedlow, Park Superintendent stated, "The new park will serve the northwestern 
section of the city when it is opened for the public." The Park District had ideas 
on how they wanted the park to look. The plans for construction did not take 
place before 1931 because its present tenants had a lease on the property for 
two years ("Park Board Secures..."). 

Davis- 4 

A Rockf ord Resident, Mrs. Anna Page donated the next acres of land to the 
Park District to add to the land purchased previously in 1929. The Park Board 
agreed to pay Mrs. Page one hundred dollars a year and permitted her to 
continue using her house and her additional acres of land (Barrie Interview). The 
name given to this section was "The Anna-Page Conservation Forest." She 
wanted this area used only for wildlife and protecting flowers, trees, and 
shrubbery ("80- Acre Tract..."). An article in The Rockford Morning Star said, 
"As many years to come, Mrs. Page's gift of woodland will be increasingly 
precious to all who love the simple things of God's world." 

In 1945, the plans for the "Page Memorial Park" were drawn-up in a clay 
model. The vision the model depicted was two lakes, bridle paths, hiking trails, a 
toboggan slide, and shelter houses. First, they stocked fish in the lakes, the 
larger one having walking paths, riding trails, and several plantings surrounding 
it. Created for ice-skating, they made the other lake shallow to make it easier 
and faster to freeze. Next, the shelter had portable walls used in the winter as 
a warm house for skaters, or in the summer for an open picnic area. The 
toboggan slide had two chutes to slide through. The slide was 250-feet of metal 
with a launch of 20-feet at a 45-degree angle. This was thought of for all ages 
to enjoy winter recreation ("No More Runs..."). Finally, the south end of the 
park stayed as it was, giving it a more natural look. The district wanted several 

Davis- 5 

flowers, plenty of trees, and birds, accommodating families and nature's wildlife 
("Page Memorial..."). 

Mrs. Page died in 1948 leaving in her will several acres of land to the Illinois 
State Park System. In a section of her will she stated, "It is my wish that the 
state cooperate as far as possible with the Rockford Park District in protecting 
the wild flowers and wildlife" ("State Accepts..."). She left conditions that the 
state had to act on this will within nine months or the property would be divided 
between relatives ("State Offers..."). The state accepted this gift from tArs. 
Page with extensive plans. The District had several ideas for family activities 
and landscaping to give the park the natural look that Mrs. Page wanted. 
Adhering to her wishes, they also had plans to devote the conservation forest to 
the preservation of the wild flowers, birds, and trees. 

With the Page properties accepted by the state, they had to acquire funds 
needed to complete their plans. The estimated cost, at this point, of the park's 
restorations totaled $260,000. The state's plans were for joint recreation, 
conservation, and flood control projects in the Page Forest. These plans still 
consisted of the lake, a two-chute toboggan slide, and limited auto access for 
the protection of wildlife. Because this park planned to be used year-around, it 
was put on a high priority rating ("Development of Tract..."). 

Davis- 6 

Later, Senator Charles W. Baker introduced a $50,000 bill to the state 
senate. This bill was for the state to develop the land for the park, and to 
compensate for the use of the public funds the state used to maintain the 
property. For unknown reasons, the bill was not accepted, and the state later 
declined the acceptance of the property. This left everything back into the 
hands of the Rockford Park District ("State Declines Annex To Park."). 

Through the years, the Park District has developed one of Rockford's most 
beautiful parks. All the plans made were successful, and the overall purpose of 
the park was achieved. Recently, the park replaced the old playground with the 
new bright and colorful playground. Families from all around come and enjoy the 
beautiful trees, the small creek, and different recreational things within the 
park. The only unsuccessful plan was the toboggan slide. It was shut down after 
21 years in 1975 for safety reasons and maintenance problems ("No More 
Runs..."). The conservation forest has its natural beauty to make the wildlife 
comfortable. This park has had a great impact on many people's lives, and will 
continue to do so for years to come. 

Works Cited 

"80-Acre Tract Woman's Gift to Park Board." Rock ford Morning Star 22 

September 1939 Rockfordiana Files, Rockford Public Library. 
"Bubbling Creek." Photo. 

Barrie, Vance. Personal Interview. 10 October 2001. 
Davis, Shakila. Personal Interview. 14 October 2001. 
"Development of Tract to cost $260,000." Rockford Morning Star 3 March 

1947. Rockfordiana Files, Rockford Public Library. 
"Enjoying a Game of Frisbee Golf." Photo. 
"Fall Tree Appearance." Photo. 
"NO More Runs For Toboggan Lovers." Rockford Register Star No Date. 

Rockfordiana Files, Rockford Public Library. 
"Page Memorial Park Plans Are Completed." Rockford Morning Star 27 

Inarch 1945. Rockfordiana Files, Rockford Public Library. 
"Park Board Secures 160 Acre Tract." Rockford Morning Star 22 

September 1929. Rockfordiana Files, Rockford Public Library. 
"Spring Appearance of the Park and Creek." Photo. 
"State Accepts 360 Acres of Rockford Land. " Rockford Morning Star 14 

October 1948. Rockfordiana Files, Rockford Public Library. 
"State Declines Annex To Park." Rockford Morning Star 10 August 1949. 

Rockfordiana Files, Rockford Public Library. 
"State Offered Site for Park." Rockford Morning Star 18 September 1948. 

Rockfordiana Files, Rockford Public Library. 
"Tall Evergreens in the Fall." Photo. 

Vanderwaal, Jennifer. Personal Interview. 14 October 2001. 
"Wading to the Other Side." Photo. 
"Winter Vision of the Park." Photo. 



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Argyle: The Small Town 
With A Lot of History 

Mike Andrews 

Fall Semester 2001 

Rock Valley College 

English Composition 1 

Mike Andrews 

English 101 Section DR1 

26 November 2001 

Argyle The Small Town With A Lot of History 

A Scottish immigrant named John Greenlee founded Argyle, Illinois in the late 
1830's. The town is located just east of Rock Cut State Park on Argyle Road in 
Winnebago County. 

John Greenlee was born on August 16, 1791 and he passed on, December 30, 
1882 (Harvey, pp. 15). He moved here from Argyleshire Scotland around 1834 and took 
up claim in Argyle in 1836 (Harvey, pp. 17, 28-32). He came from a family of farmers 
and to this day, the Greenlee family, are still farmers. His descendants still live in Argyle 
today, and are located near where John Greenlee struck his original claim. My best 
friend is Lucas Greenlee a direct descendant of John. 

The town started growing in the early 1840's. More and more settlers started 
coming over from Scott land and taking up claims (Harvey, pp. 50). In 1843 they 
organized a church, then in 1877, the old church was torn down and the present church 
was built (Harvey, pp. 83). A log school was built in the early 1840s and then in 1 846 
the log school was replaced with a stone school to accommodate the growing community. 

In 1857 the Rockford to Kenosha, Wisconsin railroad was built and came directly 
through Argyle. Irishmen from Wisconsin built the railroad. The Irishmen lived just west 
of Argyle in a town called Dog Town (W. Paulson Personal Interview). It w as named 
this because they all had dogs. After the railroad was finished in 1 859, the tow n 
commissioned to get a depot that they got the same year (1 larvey, pp. 88). When the Post 

Andrews 2 

Office opened and it was named Kintyre, after the district they lived in, when in Scotland 
(Harvey, pp. 88). 

In mid to late 1800s the town got a black smiths shop, creamery, and a hotel (W. 
Paulson Personal Interview). The creamery opened in 1 884 and was sold by the 
stockholders in 1918 to the Union Dairy Company of Rockford Illinois (Harvey, pp. 1 06- 
107). There was also a stagecoach stop about a half-mile up the road from Argyle with a 
saloon attached (W. Paulson Personal Interview). "Some time the old general store 
caught fire and half of the building burnt down some time in the middle 1 900s" (W. 
Paulson Personal Interview). 

"In the early 1900s the town got a gas station and a pool hall where the older kids 
"hung out" (W. Paulson Personal Interview). The new school was built and is still there 
but it is now Edwards Dance Center. "There was a man that came to Argyle in the 1930s 
and opened a pony ride stand for 10 cents a ride, which was quite expensive, back then" 
(W. Paulson Personal Interview). I am not sure of the exact date but the around the time 
of the Depression the town saw the closing of the blacksmiths shop, creamery and the 

The train depot closed and in its spot a sawmill opened some time later. The 
sawmill is still there. Now where the old stores and businesses once were, arc homes and 
empty lots. The old general store is now an apartment building and has seen main 
tenants in the last few years. Many of the people in Argyle now do not care or even 
know that the small town they live in was once a thriving community that had main 
small business and has gone through three schools. 

Andrews 3 

There are a few people that have lived in Argyle their whole lives and still 
remember when this small town had a lot going on. Warren Paulson, who has lived in 
Argyle his whole life and remembers when they would hang out at the pool hall and 
when they would go to the old store for supplies. Now they are just memories of a town 
that used to be. He said that when he was a little kid a lot of people still used a horse and 
buggy set up to go to the store and get supplies. Warren has a lot of memories and 
collects a lot of antiques; he even has the old fuel pump from the old gas station that he 

Now, there are a few families that have lived here for 20 years or more and the 
Slabaugh family is one of them. They all live in a small area of each other and their land 
borders Rock Cut State Park. They once owned the land that is now the subdivision 
Argyle Acers. Paul Slabaugh bought 360 acres in Argyle in the early 1970s; half of it 
was sold for the subdivision and the other half he kept for him self. 

There are a few kids that grew up here and would have bonfires and parties on 
the weekends. They would do dumb stuff that would get the kids in Rockford in a lot of 
trouble so those things will not be told (which is about everything). Most of them still 
come back, even thought they all work or go to school. They all have a bond that will 
connect us forever. That bond is called Argyle and it will be in our hearts forever. 

The people who have lived in Argyle their whole lives will always remember it 
because they are part of the history of the small town and know about it rich history. 
Their families are here and they can never forget the place where they grew up. li is one 
thing to live in a big town or a city but to live in a place that is unlike any other is the 
greatest thing in the world. It is a feeling that just cannot be explained. 

Andrews 4 

Now Loves Park is trying to annex Argyle into their township, which is 
something that most of the people in Argyle do not want to happen. It would mean 
higher taxes and more people not to mention stores, shopping malls and the eventual fast 
food franchise. The people that live in Argyle do not want to become part of a suburb. 
Even if it does, we will all remember the small town where we grew up. It is not so much 
loosing a town or a peace of history but loosing your home. Argyle has been here since 
the 1830s and we would like it to be here for another 165 years if it is possible but if it is 
not the people who live there will always carry it in their hearts. 

Works Cited 

Andrews, Mike. Argyle Population Sign Photo Sept. 2001 . 

Andrews, Mike. General Store Photo Sept. 2001 . 

Andrews, Mike. Greenlee Home Photo Sept. 2001 . 

Andrews, Mike. Old Creamery Photo Sept. 2001. 

Andrews, Mike. Old Gas Station Site Photo Sept. 2001 . 

Andrews, Mike. Old Train Bridge Photo Sept. 2001 . 

Paulson, Wayne. Personal Interview. Argyle Resident. 17 Sep. 2001 

Harvey, Daniel G. The Argyle Settlement In History And Story Whipporwill 
Publications Evansville, IN. 47715. 1986 

The Harlem Historical Society. Early Scottish Settlement Historical Marker, 1969. 

Argyle Population sign. (Photo By Author) 


&lt; v 

irarly Scotch Settlement 

John Greenlee first perrnonent settler 
Old log school built in 1842 stood no rods w: 
fce C: '/. JiV«. : l;tch United Presbyterian Church wos org 
-onized :k-I8H original building erected in 1849 
located 70 rc% &lt;cve$f of here, present structure 
y^ mile north in 1877 

Many decendanfs of the original settlers 

Harlem Historical Society 13fc9 

'f3*&amp;i" \ \ 

■ ■ . 

Historical Marker from Harlem historical society. (Located between Willow Creek and 
the church on Beloit Road) *- &gt;&gt; 

This is the spot where the old gas station and pool hall used to be. 

This is the last pump from the old gas station in Argylc that has been fully restored. 
(Photo By Author) 

• * *4 r * 


This house is where the old creamery used to be. (Photo By Author) 

This is the old general store in Argyle that is now an apartment building. (Photo By 

This is my friend Lucas's houseJie is a direct descendant of John Greenlee, founder of 
Argyle. (Photo By Author) ^ 

This is where the Rockford to Kenosha railroad crossed Willow Creek and came through 
Argyle. (Photo by Author) 

Beyer Stadium: Stage of Yesterday 

Matthew Miller 

Fall Semester 2001 

English Composition I 

Rock Valley College 

Miller- 1 
Empty parking lots and overgrown patches of weeds are common sites; most are 
unappealing monuments to trash and discarded dreams. Trie one thing they all 
have is a story. Sadly, most are tales of failed factories and business ventures gone sour. 
Some, however, hold fantastic stories of the forgotten past; Rockford is home to one of 
these rare stories. The empty lot on the corner of 1 5th Ave. and Seminary St. was once 
the home of Beyer Stadium and the setting for some of the liveliest chapters in this city's 

"Neccessity is the mother of all inventions," and the birth of Beyer Stadium was 
no exception. Board of Education President John A. Alden saw Rockford High School's 
(RHS) need for a field to be used exclusively for the football and track teams. He assesed 
the school's need and formulated a plan, which he presented to the Board in 1923. 
Approving the plan, they commisioned the School District's architects, Peterson and 
Johnson, to design the stadium while they searched for a site (Ex Libris 1 926). Their 
choice was Kishwaukee Park. This park, at the corner of 15th Ave. and Seminar) St.. 
was the site of a ball diamond owned by Rockford's team in the Three-I Baseball 
League. The team agreed to sell their field, and the surrounding land, to the 
School district for $34,410 (Keefer). The site was chosen; now funds were needed 
for the actual stadium. 

The Kiwanis volunteered to take over raising the money needed and formed a 
Stadium Commitee which, under the direction of Chairman Henry B. North, planned a 
pledge-drive. Each pledge of $7 would also serve as a season ticket for the fall 1 1 &gt;25 
sports season. The Kiwanis, leading by example, kicked the fund-raiser off b\ pledging 

1,000 seats and, with the eager sales pitch from RHS students, the goal of 4,000 pledges 
was soon met (Ex Libris 1 925). 

Soon after reaching the conclusion of the fund-raiser, the School District broke 
ground at the site. The stadium layout the Board approved included concrete stands - 
with wooden bleacher seating - and a football field surrounded by an all-weather track 
(Peterson and Johnson...). Because of a surveying error during construction, the track 
was 44.8 feet short of the regulation quarter-mile (Keefer). This would prove to be a 
major hurdle for both runners and track-meet organizers, especially in the handling of 
relay events. Construct- ion was completed in time for the fall 1 925 season. A few years 
later, in '28, the District sold an old football field to cover the cost of a new field house, 
as well as fencing and grading expenses (Ex Libris 1 925). The popularity of Beyer 
Stadium grew (Rockford Stadium.) and, having the first lighted football field in the area, 
the stadium soon became Rockfords premier sports venue (Talley 501-2). At its peak, the 
stadium was home to many interesting people. 

One of these people was Charles Beyer, the field's name-sake (Charles Beyer). 
Beyer first came to Rockford inl912 to coach RHS's football, track and basketball teams. 
He quickly established himself at the school and, not long after the construction of the 
"15th Ave./ Rockford Stadium", Beyer won his first state title in track. Within eight 
years, he led RHS to three more state championships (two in track and one in swimming). 
In addition to coaching, Beyer later served as the Athletic Director at RHS. It was in this 
role that he moved to West High School in 1940. The stadium, which had been his home 
for so many years, was re-named for him in 1948. In 1952. he retired from West and. four 

years later, at the age of 76, he died (Talley 496). Although he was one of the most 
successful coaches in Rockford's history, Charles Beyer will remembered - not for his 
state titles - but for the impact he had on the people around him. 

The most famous of the athletes that Beyer coached was Bob Packard (Bob 
Packard). As the anchor member on the state title-winning track teams of '33 and '35, 
Packard set numerous state and national high school records in the 1 00 and 220-yard 
events. After tearing through the national competition, he went on to compete with Jesse 
Owens in the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. Although he lost in the semi-final heat, he went 
on to tie the world record in the 220, beating gold-medallist Owens (who set the record) 
in the post-Olympic meet in Cologne. Packard had completed his final semester in high 
school at the University of Georgia on an athletic scholarship. After the Olympics, he 
went back to the university but dropped out after his freshman year. He then returned to 
Rockford and never competed again (Talley 472-3). Although Beyer Stadium cannot 
claim credit for Bob Packard's accomplishments, his story is a perfect example of the 
diverse role the stadium has played in the lives of various Rockford citizens. 

A story that features Beyer Stadium, and Rockford, more prominently is the one 
that surrounds the field's involvement with the Ail-American Girls Professional 
Baseball League. The concept for this league can be attributed to Phillip K. Wriglev 
(of chewing gum fame.), then owner of the Chicago Cubs. The premise behind his idea 
was that, by fielding all-girl teams, he could keep people coming out to the ball park 
during World War II. Because a number of major league players who were drafted, or 
chose to leave baseball, to fight in the war, the caliber of talent dropped considcrabh . 

Wrigley believed Major League Baseball would shut down for the remainder of the war 
(Dottie Key). 

Plans for the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League became a reality 
with the inaugural season in 1944. Teams were started in smaller cities with the intent of 
moving to the vacated major league parks when their popularity had grown. And so, 
along with teams in South Bend, IN and Racine &amp; Kenosha, WI, the Rockford 
Peaches (Rockford Peaches...) became a founding franchise. These teams quickly 
acquired a dedicated fan base. However, the league never made the jump to the big-city 
stadiums because Wrigley withdrew his involvement from the league after a single season 
(Talley 449-51). He believed the war was going to end soon and the "real" ballplayers 
would be coming home; fans of girl's baseball would surely lose interest. Interestingly 
enough, Mr. Wrigley never attended a game during the season he was involved with the 
league, believing the low quality of play would be disappointing (Browne). 

The league continued operations until 1954, even without Wrigley's support. The 
Rockford Peaches won four league championships, more than any other team, and 
established themselves as the premier franchise within the league. With Beyer Stadium 
as their home field, the Peaches were a major draw in this city, topping 80.000 in 
attendance for a single season. But the return of the major league players precipitated a 
decline in the popularity of girls baseball. Even though the crowds of spectators had 
dwindled, sometimes to less than 100 a game, the city rallied behind the Peaches when, in 
the final months of the 1953 season, the team was unable to make payroll. An impromptu 
fund-raiser quickly brought in the $12,000 needed to keep the team afloat for the rest of 

the season. This was not enough ,however, and, at the end of the '54 season, the Peaches 
were forced to withdraw from the league. After losing their top franchise, the Ail- 
American Girl's Professional Baseball League folded and, less than ten years after the 
demise of the Peaches, their field was in the midst of its own losing battle with Time. 

With its crumbling concrete stands and splintering wooden bleachers, Beyer 
Stadium was a field rapidly falling apart. Most of the stadium's problems could be 
attributed to its age and overuse; as Rockford, grew the demands on the field also grew. 
Originally to be used by one high school, in the mid-1960s the field was home to 
four (along with a number of junior high schools). The 40-plus football games played 
each fall, in addition to the track meets and other special events, tore the field to shreds. 
The locker rooms (once state-of-the-art) were now, according to Freeport football coach 
Nate Johnson, "...the worst I have ever seen" (Keefer). In addition to these problems, 
there were issues with inadequate seating, a malfunctioning scoreboard and non-existent 
track drainage. In 1965, Gerald Raasch, Building and Grounds Superintendent for the 
District, estimated the cost of restoring the stands (including both the concrete and wood) 
to be "at least $20,000." These problems, as well as the local move towards individual 
stadiums for each school, led the District to approve the construction of two new athletic 
fields (Auburn and Guilford) in 1967 (Keefer). 

Shortly thereafter, the School District took the land next to the stadium and used it 
to build Beyer Elementary School. This was part of a $21 million construction plan that 
was to stretch District-wide. In addition to building four new elementary schools, the plan 
encompassed the renovation of the majority of Rock ford's existing schools. 

Without the required maintenance, the next 25 years saw Beyer Stadium age to the 
point of being hazardous to residents of the surrounding neighborhoods. In the early '90s 
the School District gave the land to the Rockford Park District to manage (Barrie). The 
Park District assumed responsibility as part of an agreement between the School District. 
Park District and the Rockford Jay-Cees. Before the site changed hands, the Jay-Cees 
formulated a plan for the fields future. Originally, the Jay-Cees wanted to build a multi- 
purpose athletic facility to serve the surrounding community. As part of a $664,000 
renovation plan, the Park District would advance $55,000 for removal of the stadium. 
The demolition phase was completed in 1992 (Beyer Demolition) and the Jay-Cees 
moved on to raising funds for the continuation of the renovation project (Peach of an 

The community responded to the Jay-Cees release of Rockford Peaches 
commemorative tins by immediately purchasing all 5,000 released. The money from the 
sale of the tins($30,000) was added to the $55,000 already raised. Although this was 
considerably short of the total construction cost of $664,000, the Jay-Cees believed that a 
large portion of this cost would be defrayed by donated materials and labor (Peach of an 

After the demolition phase, the planned construction came to a halt. The author 
has tried to contact the Rockford-area Jay-Cees in regards to the roughly $85,000 raised. 
Newspaper articles periodically surface detailing proposed plans for the site o( Beyer 
Stadium. These range from the Jay-Cees scaled-down plan for construction of a 
museum/souvenir shop/concession stand on a corner of the lot (Peach oi\..). to the 

building of a clinic to serve Beyer Elementary students and community residents (Wiser). 
None of these plans have made it to fruition. 

These days it's hard to glean anything from a visit to the site of Beyer Stadium. 
The field seems to be a forgotten piece of "Old Rockford". Matthew Miller remembers 
his thoughts after he went to the site: 

At the bottom of the steps, behind the boarded up box-office, it is easy 
to see that the 'athletic field' is really just a beat-up mat of weeds. 
The field seems to be locked in a never-ending battle with Time. 
Surrounded by a steadily advancing army of factories belching smoke, the 
clanging of trains and the ever-present roar of trucks seem to be gaining 
the upper hand. 
In its present state, Beyer Stadium is just another abandoned lot on 
Rockford's south side. Many citizens of this city do not realize the Stadium's historical 
significance. As things stand now, only through a concentrated and community-wide 
effort will the field, and its legacy, be restored. Then, and only then, will Beyer Stadium 
be able to impact the lives of future generations of Rockford's citizens, as it has to so 
many of the past. 

The Early Years 

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Works Cited 

Barrie, Vance. Rockford Park District. Personal interview. 1 8 Oct. 200 1 

Browne, Lois. Girls of Summer: The real story of the Ail-American Girls Professional Baseball League. 

Toronto: HarperCollins, 1992. 
"Dottie Key". Senior Courier. Jan. 1998,2. 

"Ex Libris". Rockford High School Year Book 1926. Alt Lace, ed. Volume XXXI. 
"Ex Libris". Rockford High School Year Book 1933. Volume XXXVIII. 

Keefer, Chuck. "Built for One High School, Beyer Stadium Serves Four." Rockford Morning Star 1 Sept. 
1965. Rockfordiana Files, Rockford Public Library. 

"Beyer Stadium: Rockford Sports Relic." Rockford Morning Star 2 Sept. 1965. 

Rockfordiana Files, Rockford Public Library 
"Peach of an Idea." Rockford Register Star. 28 Dec. 1992, 5 A. 
Talley, Rick. "Sports in Rockford: City Often in the Limelight." 

C. Hal Nelson, ed. Sinnissippi Saga: A History of Rockford and Winnebago County, 

Illinois. Rockford, Illinois: Winnebago County Illinois Sesquicentennial Committee. 1968. 
Wiser, Mike "School Board Looks at Beyer Clinic Contract." Rockford Register Star. 1 5 Nov. 2001. 8A 


"Bob Packard". C. Hal Nelson, ed. Sinnissippi Saga: A History of Rockford and Winnebago County. 

Illinois. " Rockford, Illinois: Winnebago County Illinois Sesquicentennial Committee. 1%8 
"Charles Beyer". C. Hal Nelson, ed. Sinnissippi Saga: A History of Rockford and Winnebago County. 

Illinois. " Rockford, Illinois: Winnebago County Illinois Sesquicentennial Committee. 1968. 
"During Peaches Reign". Kevin Jacobsen. 9 Dec. 2001 . 
"Original Program". Kevin Jacobsen. 9 Dec. 200 1 . 
"Peaches at Beyer Stadium". Senior Courier . Jan. 1998, 2. 

"Peterson and Johnson Stadium Concept Drawing". Ex Libris. Rockford High School Year Book 1926. 

Alt Lace, ed. Volume XXXI. 
"Post-1948". Kevin Jacobsen. 9 Dec. 2001. 
"Rain Check". Kevin Jacobsen. 9 Dec. 2001. 
"Rockford Stadium, 1925". Ex Libris. Rockford High School Year Book 1926. Alt Lace, ed. 

Volume XXXI. 
"Today". Kevin Jacobsen. 9 Dec. 2001 

The Unforgettable Black Hawk Park. 

Arnesha Dixon 

Scott Fisher 

English Composition I 

Fall Semester 2001- Rock Valley College 

09 February 2001 

Arnesha Dixon 
Scott Fisher 
English 101 
19 November 2001 

The Unforgettable Black Hawk Park. 

Black Hawk Park is a recreational place and has been around for at least 90 years. 
Its existence came about in 191 1 . Through the years it has experienced many changes in 
its structure. The park still remains through all the changes and is still well known by its 
community. It is place to go for whatever mood there is because it provides relaxation or 
fun for both child and adult. Black Hawk Park is especially enjoyable for families 
because there is so much to do. 

It is quite easy to locate on 15 th Avenue and Christina Street, which is right by the 
Rock River. Included is a map that shows where its location is. 

A public park became a necessity in this industrialized city. Children needed a 
place to play and explore what nature had to offer ( "Rockford's Park System"). Before 
the park was established, children played in the streets ("Rockford's Park System"). 
Martha Walker recalled, " In the forties, Black Hawk Park wasn't as big as it is today. It 
only had three swings and a slide, but we would go there and hang out and sometimes 
fight over the slides because it wasn't enough for all of us to ride." This is no longer a 
problem at Black Hawk Park because it now consists of several different play areas. The 
parks existence came about due to one particular person. 

Black Hawk Park would not exist if it had not been for William Lathrop. 1 (e 
owned the land that the park sits on today. This land was known as Lathrop Woods. 1 le 
gave the land this name because of the great variety of trees that he planted. Then on 

Dixon- 2 

March 11, 1911 William sold an 80-acre tract with 3,175 feet of river frontage to the 
Rockford Park District (Rockford Park District). 

After the Park District purchased the land, they then had to find out what to label 
it. The name that they came up with was Black Hawk Park. This name was in honor of 
The Sauk Indian Warrior (Rockford Park District). 

On July 17,1917, three other men by the name of E.P. Lathrop, Robert Lathrop 
and Wait Talcott, donated another 0.1 acre of land to the Park District. This was donated 
to improve the entranceway to the park, so that it would be wider and safer for 
automobiles to travel through the park (Rockford Park District). 

George Roper, the president of the Roper Corporation quitclaimed 0.04 acres of 
land to the Park District on August 1, 1917. Later, the city of Rockford installed 
Christina Street into the surrounding neighborhood of Black Hawk Park. When they 
installed the street, the Roper Corporation quitclaimed another 1 . 1 42 acres to the Park 
District. This took place on November 17, 1923. In 1923, the District purchased 7.86 
acres of land from the Lathrop estate for the sum of $12,325. This purchase gave Black 
Hawk Park a total of 91.04 acres at a combined cost of $58,530.00(Rockford Park 

A shelter house was built on the south east side of the river or at the back end of 
the park, at the cost of $1 1,81 1.47in 1914. It was destroyed by an undetermined tire on 
February 18,1963 (Rockford Park District). A new shelter was built in 1967 at a total 
cost of 1 05,727. 23(Rockford Park District). Scandoli Construction Company erected the 
replacement masonry structure (Turpoff, p. 103). This new structure has a top bluff that 
looks over the Rock River. Underneath the shelter are many picnic tables and several 

Dixon- 3 

individual grills (Rockford's Park System). Rekisha Black said, " I can remember my 
first time being at the shelter house was at my graduation party." This shelter still 
remains and it is a great place to have birthday parties, family reunions, or etc. 

In 1919, Black Hawk Park had its own live zoo (Rockford Park District). The 
Park Board agreed to grant the zoo society a site (Rockford Park District). The zoo 
contained elephants, buffalos, Bengal tigers, monkeys, and several other animals 
(Rockford Park District). One of the first animals to arrive was an elephant named Babe 
("Elephants, Tigers, and Monkeys..."). This elephant was very popular; it was part of 
the Ringling Brothers Circus ("Elephants, Tigers, and Monkeys. . . "). Then, in 1 92 1 , the 
zoo was shut down because the public refused to support it. They then asked the Park 
Board for financial assistance so that they could keep the zoo operating. The Park Board 
declined also because at that time they were not financially stable (Rockford Park 

The Park Board leased some land to The United States of America, on May 26. 
1947 for a sum of one dollar and twenty cents per year (Rockford Park District). At this 
site they trained quartermasters, radio electronics, and control fire technicians ("Break 
Ground Today For New Naval Armory"). The building was completed in April of 1 948 
and it sill stands at the site, but is no longer used by the Navy (Rockford Park District). 
Arnesha Dixon recalled, " When training sessions were going on, I can remember hearing 
the them through my bedroom window, as they would sing army songs while practicing 
their marches." In back of this Army Reserve Building is a pretty green, grass\ area. 
This is considered the soccer field. This is used quite often in the summertime. 

Dixon- 4 

Rockford's first public lighted baseball diamond was installed in Black Hawk 
Park in June 1959. Installing this cost the Park District about $20,1 27.54(Rockford Park 
District). The ball diamond was named Marinelli Field on September 14, 1970, in honor 
of the manager of The Rockford Black Hawks, who used the Marineli Field as their home 
diamond (Rockford Park District). He led the Black Hawks to a state powerhouse, 
winning state titles in 1969, 1970 and in 1970 they finished third in the national 
tournament ("Marinelli Field Honors Black Hawk Late Manager"). In 1 988, Marinelli 
Field had retained a new look this was when the Rockford Expos of Class AA Midwest 
League first started to play at the Marinelli Field ("Marinelli Field Honors Black Hawks 
Late Manager"). 

The Getaway was built in 1991 . It is at least 64,000 square foot and it's a dream 
come true for teens. Architect Robert Leathes designed this entire part of the park 
(Rockford Park District). The Getaway consists of a large stage and dance floor, seating 
for hundreds of people, a tree house, a changing maze, a disorienting room with murals 
and mirrors, obstacle course, teen- sized swings, slide, sand, volleyball, and basketball 
courts (Rockford Park District). Young adult volunteers helped to build the Getaway 
("Teens Build Getaway"). Arnesha Dixon said, " I can remember drilling holes into 
wood and planting support poles. I enjoyed helping to build a place that kids all over 
could use. It was my first time ever building anything. This was fun working with other 
peers and the staff provided us with pop and food." This was the first teen playground in 
the nation ("Teens Build Getaway"). 

One of the most popular features of Black Hawk Park was the ice skating rink in 
its pavilion ("Summer or Winter, Black Hawk Among City's Favorite Park"). 

Dixon- 5 

During the winter Black Hawk Park opened the coasting and skiing slopes. 
People with adventurous nature used this to test their skill on junior ski jump. Diane Ivy 
said, " I can remember watching people when they would go up there to do ski jumps and 
sometimes they would have ski tournaments." This was the only one of the 44 parks of 
the Park District that offered this duty for people's entertainment ("Summer or Winter, 
Black Hawk Among City's Favorite Park"). It was located on the top slopes right above 
Marinelli Field. 

In the summertime, throughout the park are geese. People used to take their 
children to the park to feed the geese, but within the last couple years it has been 
prohibited to feed them. Excessive feeding of the waterfowl creates overpopulation. 
harms the migratory practices of the wild ducks and geese, and the leftovers attract 
rodents ("Rockford Park District Marketing"). Black Hawk Park and other park areas are 
suffering from concentrated waterfowl excrement and deteriorated lawn areas ("Rockford 
Park District Marketing"). The public has been concerned about the over sanitation. By 
not feeding ducks and geese, these birds will successfully return to feeding on their 
natural diet along the waters ("Rockford Park District Marketing"). The geese still 
remain by the river, although people can no longer feed bread or anything else to the 

Black Hawk Park has been established for quite sometime. It has main historical 
sites within it. The park has been through many changes since its establishment. Through 
all of its changes, it still remains as one of Rockford's greatest parks. It provides 
recreation for every one especially those who enjoy nature. 

Works Cited 

"Babe" Becomes Resident of Rockford Tomorrow." Photo. Rockford Register Star 
December 1925: N.PG. 
Black, Rekisha. Personal interview. 27 Oct 01 
"Black Hawk Park" Photo. Rockford Register Star 21 August 68: N.PG. 
"Black Hawk Park Shelter" Photo. Rockford Register Star. 1 1 April 68: N.PG. 
" Black Hawk Park Shelter Goes In Flames" Photo. Rockford Register Star 19 

February 63: N.PG. 
"Break Ground Today For New Naval Armory" Rockford Register Star 21 August 59 

"Elephants, Tigers And Monkeys In Rockford?" Rockford Register Start 2 Sept 84: 

"Grave His Name To Park Famed Indian War Chief Photo. Rockfodiana Files. 
Rockford Public Library. 
Ivy, Diane. Personal interview. 29 Oct 01 
"Marinelli Field Honors Black Hawks Late Manager." Rockford Register Star 
3 April 88: N.PG. 
Rockford Park District. Black Hawk Park. Annual Report. 1911 
Rockford Park District. Black Hawk Park . Information Sheet. No Date. 
Rockford Park District Marketing . Parks . Information Sheet. 13 Nov 98: p. 4. 
"Rockford's Park System." Rockfordiana Files. Rockford Public Library. NoDate. 
" Shelter Near Completion" Rockfordiana Files. Rockford Public Library. No Dale. 

1 Summer or Winter, Black Hawk Among City's Favorite Park." Rockfordiana Files, 

Rockford Public Library. No Date. 
1 Teens Build Getaway." Rockfordiana Files, Rockford Public Library. 
' The Final Details" Photo. Rockfordiana Files, Rockford Public Library. 
Turpoff, Glen. They Too Cast Shadows : United States: Northern Illinois Building 

Contractions, Inc., No Date:p.l03. 
Wilson, Martha. Personal interview. 28 Oct 01 

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Fields of Fun - The Boone 

County Fair 

Kelly Hirst 

Fall Semester 2001 - Rock 

Valley College 

English Composition I 

Kelly Hirst 
English 101 
Archival Essay 

Fields of Fun! - The Boone County Fair 

The fair's enormous Ferris wheel with white crackling paint and flashing 
lights comes into view first. The ticket vendors busily collect admission and 
stamp each hand leaving a little reminder of the fair with you for a few days. A 
paved road, on a normal day used to maintain the fairgrounds, is now crowded 
with vendors eagerly trying to sell their handmade products. These booths are 
lined up one after another along the middle of this road with the glow of 
amusement rides to the left, like a nightlight in a dark room. 

The original call for the Boone County Fair in 1855 was based on 
excitement and enthusiasm amongst the agricultural community that wanted to 
control its destiny in the growing country (Murphy 16). The fair has rooted itself 
in the memories of both the young and the old. Had it not been for a group of 
men eager to improve their agricultural community this event might not be what 
it is today. 

In the summer of 1853, a meeting was held at Planes Hall in Belvidere on 
May 22 nd in which a young lawyer named Allen Curtis Fuller was chaired 
presiding officer. His report: "In the village of Belvidere of three thousand 
people and the county whole population of twelve thousand, more could be done 
to strengthen the general farming and mechanical interests by acting as a 


stimulus to each do his best." So, the Boone County Agricultural Society was 
formed and immediately planned to hold the first annual fair (Franck, The Boone 
County Fairs Colorful Past Retold 4). 

The first fair, it was decided, would be located in the upper part of the 
village near the area of the present day Public Safety Building from about East 
Jackson Street to immediately south of the Belvidere City Cemetery and was held 
October 25 th and 26 th ' 1855 (Franck, "Work of Generations" 12). Construction 
for the fair was not much. An area of six acres was enclosed with a light board 
fence eight feet high and a building 100 feet by 50 covered with a canvas top 
atop of which streamed the stars and stripes emblematic of their country 
(Franck, "Work of Generations" 12). This area served as the exhibition room 
that was used to house events such as animal showings, farm machinery, a 
merry-go-round that was run by steam at the time, the infamous fat lady, and 
the lady with the beard (Cornerstone 24). 

Outside the tent the balloon ascension was set up, today's modern version 
of a hot air balloon ride (Cornerstone 24). In 1915, Ilia Gibbs recalls her 
memories of attending the Boone County Fair. 

Many people used the streetcar to go to the fairgrounds. Our 
family, however, usually drove to the fair packing a lunch which 
would be spread on a cloth on the ground, sometimes in the center 
of the race track. The track was used for both horse and auto 
races. As a child, I was terrified by my uncle's observation that one 


of the racing cars might become airborne and come flying off the 
track so I usually tried to take refuge up the hill near the octagon 
building. I wondered what speed the cars really achieved in those 
days? There is nothing spectacular about these memories, but 
they do point up a much different way of life and I know many 
Boone County residents could open up interesting doors to the past 
by just doing a little reminiscing. (Boone County Heritage Day 
Souvenir Booklet 33) 
During the years of 1863, 1864, and 1865 the fair was cancelled as local, 
as well as national, interests turned wholly to the Civil War being fought and fairs 
were generally abandoned. Township histories tell of "how gallantly the men of 
Boone County responded to the call of arms in the Civil War; it was a war to stir 
men's souls-the abolition of slavery and the preservation of the Union-fought on 
our own land." (Franck, "Boone County Fair's Colorful Past Retold" 3) A meeting 
was held following the war to determine whether the fair should "live or die". 
Their concern was that the fair had been out of session too long (Franck, Boone 
County Fairs Colorful Past Retold 3). The organization decided to try and make it 
live, which proved to be a successful decision. 

A short time after the war, talk started for the acquisition of another 
fairgrounds area. A meeting was held in June of 1867 by the directors of the 
Boone County Agricultural Society finding that, 


Even could the present grounds be enlarged to give sufficient 
room, its being wholly unprovided with shade or water, the location 
was not desirable... the old grounds resembled a huge cattle-pen 
and were the laughing stock from visitors abroad... the old grounds 
of eight acres are found totally inadequate being a piece of flat 
prairie without shade or water, affording no view and a drive track 
of less than 70 rods. (Franck, "Early Years: Part I" 6) 
The fair needed to switch locations to keep up with the growing success of each 

New land was purchased in 1867 near the Kishwaukee River known today 
as Spencer Park. The area contained about 30 acres with over 80 rods on the 
river. A bluff was located just to the north with sufficient standing or sitting 
room for the ever-growing crowd each year (Franck, "Early Years: Part I" 7). In 
1884, Editor Roberts recalls: 

The Japanese Fireworks were unique. They consisted of cartridges 
fired in the air from an iron mortar. At the height of 100 or 200 
feet, the cartridge bursts and figures of various sorts of transparent 
paper float off. The closing piece was very fine representing an 
immense scuttle of fish or spider. Than floated off and slowly 
vanished in the air. (Franck, "Early Years: Part II" 2) 
The land could also accommodate all of the buildings the society needed (Franck, 
"Early Years: Part I" 7). The summer of 1867 brought many changes to the 


new grounds. A well was dug first and by September 20 th the new racetrack was 
almost complete. From 1867, fairs were held annually near the Kishwaukee 
River (Franck, "Early Years: Part I" 7). 

In August 1925, "plans are being rushed for the annual Boone County 
Fair." "The grounds are being put into good condition." The buildings were 
renovated and each received a new coat of paint. More parking spaces were 
also added with the purchase of six new acres of land lying along the east side of 
the fairgrounds. The grandstand and other buildings have also received a new 
coat of paint and a new decorative entrance has been added (Franck, "Early 
Years: Part II" 3). The fair had begun to shed its old appearance and take 
shape of its present day look. 

However, the usefulness of the old grounds along the Kishwaukee River to 
hold the crowds that came annually had drawn to a close (Franck, "Early Years: 
Part II" 4). The Boone County Fair and its fairgrounds were in serious need of 
new life in the mid-1950s. Fortunately, in the period from 1957 to 1963, both 
would get a new lease on their existence (Murphy 16). Some buildings would 
remain, but the grandstand and the judges' stand would be removed. Even 
though the location of the new fairgrounds served its purpose and were an 
improvement from the original fair, the land proved to be too expensive for its 
quality. "It was time for the county's granges to step forward, not to establish a 
county fair, but to return it to the splendor and promise that had always been 
intended for it", states Ron Murphy (Murphy 16). 


So, the fair was to be moved once again, its final journey amongst many 
years of change. The new fair grounds were purchased in 1962 (Murphy 16). 
Coming into Belvidere from Rockford, State Street leads to Business 20, which 
leads directly to Route 76 where the fairgrounds are currently located directly on 
the corner. Turning left on Route 76, the grand entrance can be seen which 
looks as though it has been painted several times. Large blue letters spell out 
"Boone County Fairgrounds." 

The first fair held on the site took place in 1964. However, conflict arose 
of the new location. Many said the old grounds were nicer and better 
landscaped; they contained more "nature" (Murphy 3). But the switch in location 
was based solely on the need for more land. New restrooms were the first 
addition. Gradually, permanent buildings replaced tents. The administration 
building was the first to be erected. The grandstand built in 1965 had no roof 
during early years. The first stage consisted of nothing but a flatbed truck. In 
1981, more seating was also added which could accommodate 3500 people 
(Murphy 3). 

The '90s brought the acquisition of yet more land to the fairgrounds. In 
1991, 17 new acres were added and in 1993, 52 additional acres. This brought 
the total amount to the present day 153 acres (Murphy 16). Each year one more 
thing is added, one more thing taken away, but every piece of the fair that 
makes it so special has remained the same since its opening almost two 
centuries ago. To put a timeframe on the construction would be impossible. 


Throughout the years, the fair has maintained its original purpose, to 
serve the community and agricultural society of Boone County. Currently, the 
fairgrounds house many events that include baseball games, craft shows, art 
fairs, haunted houses, and a fireworks display on the 4 th of July. Each year 
granges that include the Beaver Valley, Big Thunder, Bonus, Capron, County 
Line, Flora, LeRoy and Prairie Grange, board officers, and 500 to 700 volunteers 
take part in making this event happen. To this day, the Boone County Fair 
remains on the same piece of land, which grows to accommodate more each 
year (Murphy 16). 

In 2001, Kelly Hirst recalls the sights and sounds of the Boone County 

Upon entering the fairgrounds one can see the huge lines that 
wrap around ticket booths. Screams are heard from those enjoying 
the amusement rides, an occasional hat falls from someone's head 
or a quarter from someone' pocket. Lining both sides of the rides 
are prize booths. Children anxiously wait their turn to win a large 
stuffed animal; adults try to win whatever they can to make them 
feel like a kid again. Among the noise of laughter and rides one 
can hear the sounds from the stadium as Miss. Boone County is 
crowned. The stands are completely full, everyone hoping to get a 
glimpse of the sparkling crown and the tears of joy after having 
just won. As the Grand Stadium clears the crowd, seemingly 


hungry, makes its way to the dozens of food booths. The smell is 
overwhelming and with all the choices who can decide. Funnel 
cakes seem to be the most popular, fried to perfection with a thick 
layer of powdered sugar. Children are frequently seen with ice 
cream in one hand and a hot dog in the other not knowing which 
to eat first, the ice cream melting in the summers heat or the hot 
dog dripping ketchup down their shirt. Popcorn litters the ground 
leaving a trail for the birds to follow in the morning. Amidst the 
smell of food, there is also the smell of the farm animals. In one 
tent there are cows laying in their stalls, the aroma of hay filling 
your nose, their bodies too tired to stand. The goats meanwhile 
are anxiously awaiting the next hand of food that is to be fed to 
them. Children seem to enjoy the sight of these animals, eagerly 
begging their parents to give them one more quarter for the 
vending machine that contains the food, "Just one more Mom, I 
promise", a little boy cries. Still some children are crying, unsure 
and afraid of what they are seeing. The scene is much like the 
sight of Santa Clause for the first time at Christmas. 
The present day fair is much different than that of the original. Each 
year, one more amusement ride is added to the row of exhibits, one more row of 
vendors. To look at the very first fair that took place over a century ago, one 
would never imagine all this came about from nothing more than a field of corn. 


Before the last carnival ride closes, before the last bow is taken on the 
Grandstand Stage at the Boone County Fairgrounds, plans for the 2002 fair have 
already begun. Each year the organization thrives to obtain a more successful 
fair than its predecessor. 

Works Cited 
"Boone's Biggest Fair Wins People's Praise." Belvidere Daily Republican. 3 

September 1920. Ida Public Library. 
Boone County Heritage Days Souvenir Booklet. Ida Public Library. 
Burleigh, Ida. "Boone County Fair Time." Belvidere Daily Republican. 8 August 

1983. Ida Public Library. 
Cornerstone. Spring 1980. A Buccaneer Publication. P. 24. Ida Public Library. 

Franck, Fred. "The Boone County Fair: The Early Years, Part I." The 

Boone County Journal. 7 August 1996. Ida Public Library. 
Franck, Fred. "The Boone County Fairs Colorful Past Retold." Boone County 

Journal, 30 July 1997. Ida Public Library. 
Franck, Fred. "The Boone County Fair: The Early Years, Part II." The Boone 

County Journal. 31 July 1996. Ida Public Library. 
Franck, Fred. "The Boone County Fair: A Work of Generations." The Boone 

County Journal. Ida Public Library. 
Hinrichs, Margaret. Personal Interview. September 2001. 
Murphy, Ron. "The Boone County Fair: The Grange Years (1957-1996) 

Revival and Growth." The Boone County Journal. 31 July 1996. Ida 

Public Library. 



SEPTEMBER II, 12, 13 &amp; 14, 1894. 



Bicycle Contests 

For Large Priaa 
Will Occur Daily.] 

Tlirilling Trialsof Speed, 

Under proper restrictions, for liberal purses, will j 
be contested for daily. 

course sweet music i 

The Poplar Grove DRUM CORPS will] 
arouse the patriotic spirit. i 

Prof FITZSIMMONS, the wonderful 
jErial L Pedestrian, will gi-e Daily Exhi- 

Bypass 10 

HapoT 6oofu UunlL| fti ds 

5ooru? county Journal a) ftvcjcsf 

Camp Grant: The Legacy 

Heather Norton 

Eng 101 DT2 

4 December 2001 

Heather Norton 
Eng 101 DT2 
4 December 2001 

Camp Grant: The Legacy 

Someone proposes a challenge: create a military camp that contains over 1 ,000 
buildings and will eventually house over 50,000 men. Could you complete this 
task? Many people in the Rockford area did when the topic of Camp Grant first 

The land that was turned into Camp Grant was very simple before the 
thousands of people came to transform it. Beautiful prairie lands, with grass as tall 
as the people who walked through it and the smell of wild flowers for miles, was 
the pre-Camp Grant. The land was bound on the north side by the city, farmlands 
on the east, the Kishwaukee River on the south, and the Rock River on the west. 

This land had to be inspected before the military camp could be constructed. 
There were prominent businessmen who got the ball rolling on this whole idea. 
Those men used power in a positive way. They had contacted the War Department, 
which caused Secretary of War, Newton Baker, to come to Rockford. It was his 
decision alone whether or not the prairie lands would have the opportunit) to 
produce a legacy. On June 2, 1917, the official word came that the land was 
acceptable and construction could start immediately (Army and Navy 4-S). 

Camp Grant was needed for the welfare of the country and the community. As 
the camp was forming, World War I was starting. Citizens of Rockford w ere \ ci\ 
patriotic and hard working to assist in any way they could. As the w omen took 


care of the families and met in groups to make signs for the war effort the men 
were out helping with the construction or were already training for the war. 

Among the major problems that took place at Camp Grant, time was the main 
one. It was a big weight on the shoulders of the constructors of the camp. The 
longer it took for them to finish the camp, the longer it took to train the men to fight 
and help the country. But the men were doing all they could do. 

The constructors of the camp were the Chicago Contracting Company. They 
began their work on June 30, 1917 (Army and Navy 4-8). These men used every 
train and asset they had possible to speed up the formation. Major Donald H. 
Sawyer, Construction Quartermaster, supervised all the work being done. Two 
months later 1,100 buildings were completed (Army and Navy 4-8). 

The men worked very hard and used numerous amounts of supplies. The 
entire camp contained 48,000,000 feet of lumber, 300 miles of electric wiring, 30 
miles of water pipe, 1,000 tons of nails, 150 acres of roofing, and 170 carloads of 
plumbing equipment (Army and Navy 4-8). The men were very dedicated. 

There were many different buildings constructed for the camp. The barracks 
played an obvious role. Each barrack housed 250 men. There was a 1 ,300 bed- 
station hospital (Army and Navy 4-8). Stables for horses were built. The horses 
were major assets in moving the supplies once they were unloaded off the cars of 
the train. Many people took part in building the recreation buildings for the 
soldiers. Young Men's Christian Association, Knights of Columbus. Red Cross. 
Salvation Army, and the American Library Association were just a few (Army and 
Navy 4-8). And last, but certainly not least, the Liberty Theatre was built. Four 


thousand five hundred people could be seated in this building that was put up by 
the War Department (Army and Navy 4-8). 

August 30, 1917 was the day Camp Grant was completed. It was called Camp 
Grant in honor of General U.S. Grant (Army and Navy 4-8 J. 

The government or businesses put up most of the funding (Rock ford online 
2001). This made it easy on the citizens of Rockford. All they had to commit to 
was the time to help out their city. 

Upon entering the camp, there are dirt roads and an eternity of buildings for 
acres. The doors are like an open window to someone's soul because they were 
always left open whispering for people to come in. Yet, the small but quaint 
porches outside the barracks and its color, gave the buildings a saddened and old 
feeling to them. 

Building after building was washed-out white. These buildings were cold. 
The main idea was not to make the worn down, lonely soldiers feel at home; they 
were simply there to train to fight a war. The double-decker beds, inside the 
barracks, implied two people getting to know each other. However, the men 
seldom had time to worry about making new acquaintances. Forming a bond 
between each soldier was not something that had to be achieved or worked on. That 
bond had been there since the first day the soldiers arrived. This bond shed sonic 
warmth and light on this devastating time. 

There was no grass, or at least very little, as you traveled around the grounds of the 
camp. It was as if the life was sucked out. After it rained small puddles \\ ould 
form in the dirt on the pitted ground. On a good day the sun w ould shine and 
reflect a rainbow in the puddle shedding happiness and hope on the soldiers. 

Norton -4 
Looking for the railroad at the camp was no problem. The black iron rails that 
carried essentials throughout the area ran straight through the center of the camp 
(Online picture). Using the cars of the train to get unwanted items out of camp and 
needed items in the camp was helpful in a large way. 

It was not unusual to see horses while walking around the camp. They were 
the epitome of strength and determination and aided in transportation and chores. 
Sometimes the soldiers lined up as if they were an assembly line, all working 
together to achieve a common goal. It is sometimes mystical how people can come 
together in such hard times. The soldiers met in a huge fenced area to train and 
learn new skills. In the background there was yet another white building. Escaping 
the washed-out feeling is hard to do anywhere on these grounds. 

Soldiers walked from building to building and wore uniforms that 
distinguished their place in rank at Camp Grant. Still, every uniform had a stiff, 
crisp, and ill fitting look to it. This brought the soldiers back to an equal level. All 
the soldiers had to look at the white buildings every day. They all hoped to see that 
rainbow from the sun in a puddle. 

By the time fall arrived there were 18,000 eager men at Camp Grant wanting to 
help their country. The first soldiers to arrive were Company A, First Illinois 
Engineers; First Illinois Infantry Regiment followed those men (Army and Navy 4- 
8). One of the highlights for the men at this time came on January 5, 1 c ) 1 S. This 
was the day General John J. Pershing came to visit Camp Grant (Rockford online 

Not long after, the camp reached its peak. By spring of 1 91 8 there were 50,000 
men being housed. Of course, this posed a bit of a problem. Were there 
enough barracks to house this many soldiers? Commanding officer Colonel J.H. 
Davidson made sure of it. Some of the recreation buildings were turned into 
barracks, and more were built. All the soldiers had a place to stay (Army and Navy 

However, no one knew the largest problem that lay ahead. Just two months before 
the war ended an outbreak occurred. In September 1918 influenza struck Camp 
Grant leaving 1,400 men dead (Rockford online 2001). 

November 11, 1918, marked the end of World War I. By this time more than 
one million men entered, trained, or were demobilized at Camp Grant(Army and 
Navy 4-8). The community was not only proud but also honored to have those 
soldiers serving Rockford. A place that provides a backbone for a community and 
a way of life is usually deemed extraordinary. Camp Grant was an excellent 
example of this. The camp was not only a community itself, but it gave the 
surrounding area something to believe in during a time when it was needed most. 
As World War II began this camp was reactivated as a replacement center and 
medical training post for draftees. Every trainee needed an officer in command. 

Colonel J.H. Davidson was the commanding officer of Camp Grant. Stem faces 
and sculpted minds followed him. These people were known to be the first men on 
the grounds. Colonel C.J. Otjen, Colonel Joseph I. Martin, Lt. Colonel J .!■". 
Bohlender, Captain L.T. Smith, and Captain W.E. Donaldson were those men. The 
camp needed to be ready for the thousands of soldiers that were to appear there. 

Those men had to feel secure and at home to be trained accurately f Army and Navy 

The First Selective Service draftees arrived on February 1 6, 1 941 . With them 
came Miss Elizabeth Fitch the head nurse. She brought along 14 of her best nurses 
to assist her (Army and Navy 4-8). 

Brigadier General John M. Willis assisted the camp as commanding officer. 
His appointment took place on May 23, 1941 Army and Navy 4-8). He was made 
commander very close to Memorial Day, which was a great day for the soldiers. 
Fifteen hundred soldiers banded together like brothers and marched in Rockford on 
Memorial Day. Trainees of the 30 th Battalion, the Medical Replacement Center 
Band, and 70 motorized units filled the streets Army and Navy 4-8). As the 
soldiers marched, their pride was contagious. That day the citizens seemed to hold 
their heads a little higher and they cheered a little louder all in support of their 

One event that made the men of Camp Grant quite overwhelmed was when 
Major General James. C. Magee visited them. As the Surgeon General of the 
United States Army, he brought words of wisdom and hope to the troops that day m 
1941 (Army and Navy 4-8) 

Wsom was not all the troops looked for; they wanted a Camp Sweetheart. 
Miss Louise Gaines was this lady. In late summer of that year, she earned the title 
of the Camp Grant Sweetheart. Every newspaper from the east coast to the west 
coast covered her story. Unfortunately, she could not keep the men content fore\ er. 

As winter's dismal sigh settled over the troops, they did their best to keep their 
spirits high that winter. However, December 7 , 1941, was embedded in their 

minds. The horrendous attack on Pearl Harbor took place on this day. More than 
16,000 men entered the military from the Rockford area (Rockford online 2001). 
Those men knew their country was counting on them. They had to believe to give 
the people hope. 

Along with the attack on Pearl Harbor, there was a problem with the Medical 
Replacement Center. The center needed to increase in size. In the spring of 1 942 
that is what happened, and the men were very appreciative. Not only was the 
Replacement Center changed, but within the next couple years the camp was too. 

Between 1943 and 1944 a Prisoner of War Camp emerged (Rockford online 
2001). Lucille Gray recalls," The POW's were so young-all in their late teens at 
the oldest. These men were from Italy and Germany. I was only 20. Those boys 
did not have an old look, and that is how I knew they were my age." (Gray 
Interview) Indeed the men were very young. They cleaned the camp buildings and 
worked outside. It was very easy to tell them apart from everyone because their 
shirts had the letters P,0, and W in the back in big 8 to 12 inch letters. They never 
caused any harm though. Their eyes said they were lost. They yearned for contact. 
" I had to ride the bus to Camp Grant. I would get off at the sign, which is still 
there today, that said Camp Grant. Every day there 

Would bethe same POW's working in the field. And every day this one would ask 
me for the time and point to his wrist. It was as if he thrived on that human 
contact," Lucille Gray remembers Gray Interviews). Not only were the POW's 
ready for the war to end, but so was the Rockford community. 

On November 16, 1943, the voters approved the formation of the Greater 
Rockford Airport Authority (Rockford online 2001). They planned to put the 

airport where Camp Grant was located. However, the law that delt with the 
formation of the airport was found unconstitutional. The airport was still approved 
but could not be built for two years. 

Now at the closing of World War II, the purpose of the camp changed again. 
The goal was to get men discharged, not inducted, so they could get home with 
their families. " My dear friend, Josephine Freil, worked in the financial office for 
a year. As the soldiers would leave, the barracks served as the place they went to 
check out. Every soldier had a book that said where they served, what shots they 
received, and when they got paid last," Lucille Gray talked of a friend's 
responsibilities at Camp Grant (Gray Interview). Depending on how far away an 
individual soldier lived from the camp they received enough money to return home. 
With them they took what pay, if any, they were owed and their belongings. Their 
glow was so profound, people could that everyone felt truly blessed. 

September 2, 1945 marked the end of World War II. The soldiers began to 
make their way home and the camp closed. More than 16,000 of Winnebago 
County's population served in the armed forces during the four years (Rockford 
online 2001). Of those 

men, 1,081 were killed, wounded, taken prisoner, missing in action, or dead from 
non-combat causes. Those figures do not include the hundreds of people that died 
from the worst polio epidemic in Rockford's history. From July until November of 
1945, 382 people tragically died from polio (Army and Navy 4-S). 

Eventually the community started to regain its strength. Neath six months 
later the topic of the airport arose in full strength. The City-Council Planning 
Commission named Lloyd T. Keefe the city-county planner. His first job \\ as to 

direct the conversion of Camp Grant into an airport. Planning and organization 
went on for more than a year. The fall of 1 947 brought bad news for all who felt 
Camp Grant should be kept as a visual part of the community (Rockford online 

More than 1,200 acres of camp property were being turned over to the Greater 
Rockford Airport Authority (Army and Navy 4-8). Immediately they decided to 
tear down the buildings at the camp. Although some buildings were kept and made 
into apartments, all the history was being turned into an airport. So, Camp Grant 
ends and the Rockford Airport began. 

Whether you know much about World War II or Camp Grant it is a part of 
history. The soldiers were put in a dismal place that they made shine as their breath 

seeped into the land the camp stood on. The spirits of the men were anything but 
sad. The souls of those soldiers are still a part of the land, and they bring what is no 
longer there back to life. 

Once a thriving World War II Camp, all that if left of Camp Grant now is a 
small sign with its name. It seems as if that is not enough. Finding the historic 
camp is only possible in your mind. Yet, the land and its past is still embedded in 
many people's minds. 

Honor, loyalty, and love were not words that the soldiers of Camp Grant took 
in vain one day of their life. Although this great historical site was taken from the 
public eye, its meaning will never fade. Those men built a community and ga\ e 
Rockford someone and something to strive to make batter. Camp Grant irul\ is a 
legacy that will never be forgotten. 

Works Cited 

"Camp Grant Picture." Online. 

www. ukans.edul~kansite/ww_one/photos/bin/image/l 500.jpg 

"Camp Grant Picture." Online. grant.jpg 

"Camp Grant Picture." Online. 

"331 st Machine Gun Battalion." Online. 

Historical and Pictoral Review: Medical Replacement Center Camp Grant. 111. 
Baton Rouge, Louisiana: Army and Navy Publishing Company. Inc. 10-4-1 . 4-8. 

"Rockford, Illinois." Online. 

www. htm 

"Rockford, Illinois." Online. 

"Rockford, Illinois." Online. 

Gray, Lucille. Phone Interview. 8 November 2001 


z '- '■'-■"■■ ^ '■■?•■■ ;v ■■'-.?"■■ , ;: i :.v^.'.-v'..;;v:©i,'^« 

Camp Grant, Rockford, Illinois - 1917 


Camp Grant, Rockford, Illinois - 1917 

Camp Grant, Rockford, Illinois - 1917 

A- 100 

Davis Park: What It Was, And What It Is Now 

Chad Foster 

Fall Semester - Rock Valley College 

English Composition I 

Chad Foster 
Eng 101 

In the beginning there was nothing along the Rock River banks except for 
wilderness. Then, eventually people started moving into this area, which would later be 
named Rockford. Soon after local businesses started going up, schools were built, and the 
city began to grow over a rapid time period. Then in 1989, a project was started. This 
project revolutionized the way that Rockford is today, and that project turned into a park 
called Davis Park, also known as Founder's Landing. This park is a great place to go for 
any kind of event, for any age, group or culture. 

Davis Park has some history to it, which most people don't even know about. 
Back in 1834, some men were looking for a place to make a midway to rest when they 
were transporting goods from Galena to Chicago. There were three of these men: 
Germanicus Kent, Lewis Lemon and Thatcher Blake (Centre Events). They are the three 
men who founded the city of Rockford, and they did it where the waters of the Rock 
River and Kent Creek come together. That is the same exact location that Davis Park is 
in. An important sculpture of these men stands with Davis Park, even still today to 
commemorate Rockford's birthplace and it's industrial and cultural heritage. 

The area of what is now Davis Park was also a place for local businesses to get a 
good start. There was a lot of industry down in that area, but the most known one in that 
area was The Water Power District. Even today, the area around Davis Park is still good 
for business. The only difference is that now it is more for entertainment purposes, instead 
of industry. Today there is the Metro Centre, The Times Theatre and many other 
attractions for the people of the Rockford area and even for people from other areas of the 

Chad Foster 
Eng 101 

For someone who wants to visit this attraction, it is not hard to get there at all. in 
Rockford, E. State St. is easy to find. It almost goes through the whole city of Rockford. 
E. State St. eventually meets up, downtown, with a street called Wyman, which goes by 
the Metro Centre. All one has to do is look across the street, and see a bright, colorful 
building. It is purple, green, blue, and about any other color that a person can think of, 
but it is one of the most beautiful sites in Rockford. That colorful building is where Davis 
Park starts. Under where it says Davis Park, it says Founder's Landing in honor of the 
three men who founded Rockford. If a person walks by that building and into Davis Park, 
he or she will see the other side of that building, which is just as beautiful as the backside 
of it. Also there is a great view of the Rock River, and even a bridge that stretches over 
the Rock River. Although today this park is a beautiful place, it has had its problems in 
the past, and almost didn't get to open at all. 

Chad Foster 
Eng 101 

This is what Davis Park looks like from the Metro Centre 

The Rockford Park District started the creation of Davis Park in 1989, but they 
had to hold off on getting involved, because the recreation tax referendum failed. Then, to 
get the project started they got help from the Davis Trust, which was around one million 
dollars. Also, they turned to help from the City of Rockford and from the Metro Centre. 
It would cost them around 6.8 million dollars to get the whole project done, and it was 
expected to take from five to ten years to complete. "We have some people who say it 
can't be done," Mayor Charles Box said. "I think in this city we've proven it's OK., it's 
acceptable for people to dream. If we can dream, we can do it." (New Look e» 2 1 95) 

Chad Foster 
Eng 101 

The Park District decided to name the park after the Morris and Roberta Davis family, 
because they always wanted to open up a park for the Rockford community. Other 
reasons were because Morris Davis was very involved in the community, with such things 
as: the Rockford Lions Club, Rockford Symphony Orchestra, Goodwill Industries and the 
United Way (Centre Events). Although the park did finally get the approval, other 
problems came up later. 

During the construction of the park there were seven 1,000-gallon gas tanks found 
underground. It is said that there was an old auto dealership, as well as many other 
businesses, which used to be in the area of what is now Davis Park. This was a problem 
for Davis Park, because they had to delay the opening day, so they could get this clean up 
project out of the way. To get the tanks out of the ground it cost the city around $ 1 4,000. 
and it took anywhere from thirty to forty-five days to finish it (Gas Tanks 4/29/92). Even 
after they got the tanks out of the ground, there were still even more problems to come 

After the tanks were removed from the park, they then discovered that the tanks 
had leaked into the soil, and possibly into the ground water. Oil, solvents, degreasers and 
several different barrels of hazardous chemicals polluted the soil there. To start the 
process of cleaning up this pollution, they first had to test the ground water to see how 
bad the contamination had affected the soil. Then they had to dig out and remove all o( 
the contaminated soil. The biggest problem with this contamination was that their budget 
was only $50,000, and they could not go over that. They managed to clean up all of me 
contamination without going over that amount though. Doug Scott, a city attorne\ . told 

Chad Foster 
Eng 101 


the alderman, "The hold where the soil and tanks where removed now contains 
uncontaminated sand." Although he also said, "you can't rule out the possibility that the 
sand might become contaminated by groundwater pollution, thereby increasing the amount 
of polluted material that would need to be removed. "($50,000 Limit 6/30/92). 

So far the park is doing all right without any other pollution issues, but some may 
come up in the future. Now the park is finally opened, and there are many different events 
that go on at Davis Park. 

This beautiful view is what the people of the Rockford area will see every 4th of July from Davis Park. 
The event is put on by 104. 9 WXRX. 

Chad Foster 
Eng 101 

Every Fourth of July, Davis Park provides the firework show for the city of 
Rockford, IL. Most people watch the fireworks from the Wyman or Jefferson bridges, but 
a lot of the people make their way down to Davis Park. While the people on the bridge 
get the view of an excellent firework display, with the enjoyment of music that goes with 
the fireworks put on by 104.9 WXRX, a local Rockford radio station, the people down at 
Davis Park are offered the same thing and much more. At Davis Park they have local 
bands playing and all kinds of food. It is more of a festival than just a fireworks show. 
"It's the best time I've had on the Fourth of July" said Brad Stark, a friend of this author. 
Other than the fireworks and local bands, Davis Park has much more to offer than that. 

Every year around Memorial Day Weekend, Davis Park has an event put on by 
WXRX called Wing Ding. It is always a free show where major bands play, and they 
make chicken wings for everybody. Although people have to pay for the chicken wings, it 
is still worth it, because they get to see some good bands for free. Wing Ding started out 
small, with just local bands playing, such as the Pimps. Then it grew to get bigger, having 
bands like Nickelback, Stir, Cheap Trick and Three Doors Down playing at it. "I 
remember the smell of wings that filled the air, the mob of people pushing toward the 
stage and the sound of loud music that surrounded the whole area. I just loved the 
environment that was at Davis Park." this author said. Although Wing Ding is one of the 
bigger events that go on at Davis Park, it is still not the biggest one. 

Chad Foster 
Eng 101 

^ .JW 


Nickelback, the band pictured above is one of many bands that have played at Davis Park. They were 
also the opening band for Wing Ding 2000. 

Every year at the end of August comes an event that brings out everybody in 
Rockford and all of the surrounding areas. This event is called "On the Waterfront". It 
has so much to offer. There are rides, carnival games, and, of course, concerts, lots of 
concerts. This whole event is not held at Davis Park, but Davis Park is where they have 
the Great Lawn Stage. This is where most of the major bands play. Some of the bands 
that have played on the Great Lawn Stage are: Sevendust, Powerman 5000, Stabbing 
Westward, Cheap Trick, Def Leopard, and The Union Underground. The Great Lawn 
Stage is the biggest attraction to On the Waterfront, because of the major bands that play 
on it (Centre Events). There have been some problems with the crowd getting out of 
hand, and they almost stopped having the metal bands play at On the Waterfront because 
of this. "I remember seeing Sevendust at On the Waterfront in 99*. The crowd there was 
so crazy and so violent. They all rushed the stage to get closer, and part of the stage 

Chad Foster 
Eng 101 

collapsed," said Will Fowler. Although that happened, they decided to bring the metal 
bands back in 2001, and everything seemed to go fine. It is not only metal bands that plav 
there, though. Cheap Trick, Lynard Skynard, Def Leopard, and even Destiny's Child have 
played on the great Lawn Stage (Centre Events). 

vendust headlined On The 

Waterfront in 1999. 

Davis Park revolutionized the whole city of Rockford, and the surrounding 
communities. Rockford is not the boring city it used to be, now that Davis Park has been 
built. Before Davis Park, there was nothing that the city had to offer, except for the 
Metro Centre, which even now does not have very many exciting events. Davis Park has 
taken over and revived this town, and it is a great place to take a family for a night on the 
town. It offers events for all ages, all groups and all cultures. 


"$50,000 Limit Set On Cost of Polluted Park Cleanup" Rockford Register Star 6/30/92 

Rockfordiana Files RPL. 

"A New Look For Davis Park" Rockford Register Star 6/21/95 

Rockfordiana Files RPL. 

"About Davis Park" Centre Events 2 pp. Online. 

Internet. 7 Oct. 2001. URL: 

"Davis Park Without A Manager" Rockford Register Star 1 1/9/98 

Rockfordiana Files RPL 

"Five Years Later, A New Venue" Rockford Register Star 10/12/95 

Rockfordiana Files RPL 

"Gas Tanks Under Park May Be Removed Soon" Rockford Register Star 4/2/92 

Rockfordiana Files RPL 

"State Could Help Pay to Clean Up Park Site" Rockford Register Star 12/16/92 

Tale of the Devil 

Heath Solon 

Fall Semester 2001-Rock Valle) College 

English Composition 1 

'.',.'.:. '. 

Devil's Lake has not changed much since it was created at the end of the 
Precambrian Period when the Wisconsin Glacier started to retreat at the end of the last Ice 
Age (Herr). The lake in itself has remained timeless; however, its inhabitants have 
changed over the last couple hundred years. Devil's Lake once was home to Native 
Americans, but now is a tourist attraction for anyone who wants to visit this ancient park. 
The park's history began before animals even existed, and now has evolved into a 
sanctuary for both man and animals alike. 

The lake was created about fifteen thousand years ago when the Wisconsin 
Glacier came through the eastern half of Wisconsin. As the glacier came through the 
state, it flattened and rearranged the surface of the earth. Most of Wisconsin's surface 
was made of soft soil and sandstone, but a small thirty-five mile range of the state is made 
of quartzite rock. The quartzite range is now called the Baraboo Hills and is what makes 
the outer walls of the lake. As the glacier melted away, the quartzite heaved upwards and 
left the bluffs damned by rocks on each end of the spring- fed lake. If the ends were not 
damned, it probably would have became a creek (Herr). 

Artifacts found around the park indicate that Native Americans had visited the 
park long before "white" people had even discovered this land. The first inhabitants of 
this area probably appeared around a thousand years ago. They have been called "Effig\ 
Mound Builders" because of the unique mounds they left behind. The mounds w ere 
made into shapes of various things like animals or geometric shapes like ridges or cones. 
Unfortunately, there is not a lot known about these inhabitants. The earl\ Nam e 

Solon 2 

Americans did not leave much behind to tell about their lives, or why they picked this 
area to inhabit. All that is left from them is a few effigy mounds, even the Winnebago 
Indians do not know why the ancient Native Americans made these mounds (Lange 4). 

The next inhabitants to live in the lake area were the Winnebagos. They were 
known to come to the lake to hunt and fish. This particular tribe had created many myths 
about the lake's creation. Most of the myths involved battles between thunderbirds and 
the water spirit of the lake. The myth said that the high bluffs were created during this 
battle. Even though they had stories about events that altered the land, the Winnebago 
tribe never really left any physically mark on the area. They continued visiting the area 
well into the early 1900s as tourists of the park (Lange 4). 

Construction of buildings became popular as more tourists came to the area. 
Louis J. Claude built a house on the north shore of the park in 1 857. The house remained 
as a land mark until it was removed in 1953 by the government. Hotels were also 
constructed on the shores of the lake. Most of the hotels were built in the late 1 800s. The 
Minnniwuaken and the Cliff House were of the most popular buildings built on the site. 
but only the Minniwauken remains there. Most of the buildings were removed to bring 
the park back to a more natural state (Lange 7). 

The lake started to become a tourist attraction in the latelSOOs, before it was 
officially known as a park. According to local records, about 20,000 people \ isited the 
lake in 1872 (Story of the Bamboo...). Interest in this area created the idea to preserve 
the land as a park. A committee was formed to raise funds and to get state backing to 
make the park official. The committee was formed in 1907 and started to sur\e\ the lake 

Solon 3 

and surrounding area. It took the next three years to buy the land and get a bill passed 
through the state legislature. Devil's Lake became Wisconsin's third state park in 1 910. 
(Lange 62-63) 

The lake, up until this point, had many names. There were many debates on what 
to call the park. It seemed that this area had a different name every time someone new 
decided to write about it. Devil's Lake was the name that finally stuck. The following 
quote best describes why people decided to call this park Devil's Lake: "Had the lake 
been christened by any other name, it would have not have attracted so many people... 
Had it been called 'Paradise Pond' fewer would have cared to visit it." (Lange 1) 

Shortly after the park was opened, the country fell into a depression. Jobs became 
hard to find, and the government stepped in to help people get back on their feet. The 
government created work projects to help keep the economy going, one of these projects 
was called the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). The CCC was made up of young 
males that had no other opportunity for work (Lange 81). President Roosevelt created the 
idea of CCC on the day of his inauguration. On March 9, 1933 President Roosevelt told 
Congress his plan to enlist 250,000 men to help preserve the United States natural 
resources. The bill was signed into law on March 31, 1934 (Civilian Conservation 
Corp). It was this government work project that brought hundreds of to the Devil's Lake 
Park. The young men received room and board, and a small wage for w Diking in parks. 
The CCC came to Devil's Lake in 1934 and employed two hundred men. Their job was to 
clear the dead trees and build paths throughout the park. They e\ en surveyed the land and 
made a map of the park and surrounding area before they left in 1 C U 1 . f he park w as then 

Solon 4 

turned back over to the state. (Lange 8 1 ) 

The park has had a long history, even longer than life itself, but it still is able to 
spark curiosity in many of its visitors. It has under gone some changes in the last couple 
hundred years, but it has always managed to stay close to its original state. The 
government and local communities have helped to preserve its natural beauty for many of 
tourists that wander into this beautiful area called the Mid West. The writer of this paper 
still finds it hard to believe that a sheet of ice was originally responsible for the creation 
of the landscape in Baraboo, but is damn glad it did. Now that it is a public park, anyone 
can go there and see what the land looked like before man was even on this continent. 
Most of the visitors that visit this area today go to Devil's Lake to hike, rock climb, and 
scuba dive. 

Sources Consulted 

Civilian Conservation Corps. Online website 25 November 2001 . 

Solon, Heath. Looking Down On The Beach. Photograph. September 2001 . 

Solon, Heath. Marty Sitting On One Of The Bluffs. Photograph. September 2001 . 

Story of the Baraboo Hills. Online website 30 September 2001 . 

Hiking, Biking ,&amp; Camping. Online website 13 November 2001 . 

Friends of Devil's Lake State Park. On line website 13 November 2001 . 

Land Before Time. On line websitel3 November 2001. 

Lange, Kenneth. A Lake Where Spirits Live. Baraboo, Wi: Baraboo Printing. 1975, 

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Hometown Haunt 


Jennifer Burmeister 

Fall Semester, 2001 - Rock Valley College 

English Composition I 

Burmeister 1 

Jennifer Burmeister 
December 10, 2001 
Scott Fisher, Instructor 
English 101, NCE1 

Hometown Haunt 

It is rumored that the house at 401 East Lincoln Avenue, in Belvidere, IL, has 
been haunted since the 1920s. The ghostly spirit that inhabits the premises is known as 
the late Nellie Dunton. She is not an angry soul, just mischievous. Finding Nellie's 
dwelling is not too challenging, as it's only about a 15-minute trip. 

Starting in Rockford, at the 1-90 East State Street intersection, travel eastbound 
towards Belvidere. The drive is about nine miles and takes approximately ten minutes. 
There are few things to observe while driving along. The first is a driving range 
with a sign that reads "ICE CREAM". The stretch of road following is blanketed with 
corn and bean fields with a few houses. Just before entering Belvidere is 
a veterinary clinic on the right-hand side of the road that is set back into some very 
tall evergreen trees. 

Upon entering town, the road widens into a four-lane with all of the 
banks, stores, and fast food restaurants on down the strip. At the first intersection. 
Appleton Road, is a huge neon Jack Wolfe sign that is impossible to miss. 
because of the car lot that is on both sides of the road. A few blocks further, Slate Slice; 
takes a jog to the right quickly followed by two stoplights. Fairgrounds Road and 
Harrison Street. 

Burmeister 2 

Continuing on, is a residential area for the next four or five blocks. The very next 
stoplight is at the intersection of Lincoln. Turn left here. 

Ahead is a stoplight at the intersection of East Lincoln and Main. The 
street following the stoplight, coming only from the left, is Webster. Webster "T" 
intersects with East Lincoln. At the top of the "T" is the house of interest. 
This colonial style home cannot be missed because of the fuchsia-painted brick and the 
bright green shutters and roof. Other details of the house include: several stately 
evergreen bushes lining the front porch, lace curtains silhouetting through the 
windows and front doors, and the front porch is merely three steps and a stoop with 
an overhang. Blowing in the breeze like a soaring eagle is an American flag stuck in a 
holder on the frame of the double door entrance. 

To the left of the house is an evergreen tree-lined driveway that leads to the 
back of the house where a two-car garage sits. The building stands alone, as the vines 
which once entangled throughout, have disfigured the bricks over the many years of 

Continuing on around the back of the house there is a beautiful V* of an acre yard, 
covered with acorns, that backs up to the Kishwaukee River. Although the view is 
pleasant, there is an unsettling presence that enlightens hearing and makes body hairs 
stand on end. Closer to the water, the grass and weeds become more unkept and some 
cantaloupe and watermelon-sized rocks line the muddy bank. What looks to be a pile 
of leftover rocks is actually the entrance to a secret tunnel that leads to the basement of 
the house. Once used for the Underground Railroad, the path since has been sealed off 
up near the house because of unwanted pests entering the house. Now . rodents frequent 

Burmeister 3 

the old tunnel for shelter from the weather. 

Continuing around the house, a 21 st century gazebo comes into sight. The 
newness of the stained wood is a welcome change in scenery. Stacked nearby is a huge 
pile of chopped firewood. Many of the trees in the yard look as if they are, "on their last 
breath." One more right turn and we are back to the main entrance of this haunted 

Even though the story continues year after year, this is how it originally began. . . 

Nellie Dunton was born May 14 th in the year 1852, just before the Civil 
War. Nellie was one of three children. Mr. Dunton, Nellie's father, made a generous 
income being the president of the First National Bank of Belvidere. In the early 1 890s, 
the Dunton Family purchased their home at 401 East Lincoln Avenue. The house was a 
large two-story red brick colonial-style home believed by local historians to be one of the 
first homes built in Belvidere. The walls were constructed with two rows of double 
brick, with an air space in between to insulate year round. An "L"-shaped porch 
wrapped around two sides of the house. There was not any kind of railing around the 
porch or up the three steps. The porch was used as a sitting area. Nellie and her mother 
often spent time knitting in their rockers as the fresh air blew like a fan, cooling them on 
warm summer afternoons (Johnson). 

At the age of 27, Nellie fell in love with a young, handsome man. After just one 
year of courtship, the young man asked for Nellie's hand in marriage (Boone). Ecstatic 
with the idea of marrying her true love, Nellie accepted his proposal. The eager bride 
was busily planning all the details of her upcoming wedding and putting some final 
touches on her wedding dress when she got the news. . .the wedding was off with no 


explanation from her fiance! Crushed, the high-spirited girl was never the same. 

The house at 401 East Lincoln Avenue is where Nellie and her maid continued to 
live even after the death of her parents. As Nellie grew older, she began to have a 
sleeping disorder called insomnia. With Nellie's difficulty sleeping, she often awoke her 
maid with her shuffling throughout the house. After years of this erratic sleep disorder, 
the maid became accustomed to the nightly ruckuses and would not always get out of bed 
to check on "Miss Nellie". 

One morning Nellie did not come down for breakfast at her usual time, 7 o'clock. 
Alarmed, her maid, Mrs. Lou McNeil, went up to her bedroom to check on her. Unable 
to find "Miss Nellie," she ran next door for help. Dr. Belsey, the neighbor, and his wife 
followed her back to the Dunton home to search for the missing woman. She was 
nowhere to be found. The search moved outside and down to the Kishwaukee River, 
which ran directly behind the residence. As they came upon the river, they saw the 
68 year old, elderly, body of Nellie Dunton floating face down in only 18 inches of water. 
When she was pulled from the river she was wearing her wedding gown from many years 
ago (Boone). 

Nobody ever fully understood the terrible sorrow Nellie was forced to deal with 
day in and day out for 40+ years until her death. 

The coroner, Hawkey, pronounced Nellie dead early Sunday morning June 2S th 
1920, at the age of 68 ("Miss Nellie Dunton Dies..."). 

Burmeister 5 

The verdict of the jury read as follows: 

The evidence shows that the deceased was almost totally blind; that she 
had been a semi-invalid for nearly ten years and suffered greatly with 

The Belvidere Daily Republican, Wednesday, June 30, 1920 read evidence in 
coroner's inquest reveals no facts not previously known-believed to indicate that the 
victim of tragedy became bewildered and lost her sense of direction, walking into the 
river ("Miss Nellie Dunton Dies. . ."). 

Since Nellie's death in 1920, the house on East Lincoln has had very unusual 
happenings that could only be explained by a ghost's presence. 

The Hayes, the Johnson, and the Beards families, all homeowners since the 
Dunton Family, have spoken of. . . flower pots, hair dryers, and other household items 
being moved to different rooms when no one was home; a rocking chair rocked itself in 
an upstairs bedroom; and resident dogs and cats have gone wild when, seemingly, no one 
was there. "Nellie seems especially preoccupied with the Beards' bouquet of dried 
flowers, which were occasionally strewn around the room." "One morning Mr. Beards 
came downstairs and saw a bouquet of dried flowers suspended in mid-air. He, frozen 
with shock, watched as the flowers fell to the floor." (Rogers; Doyle). 

Judy Greef also lived at 401 East Lincoln as a teenager. She was able to recall a 
couple of ghostly activities when her family "the Johnsons" lived there. The most 
astonishing story was when Mrs. Johnson had gone up to the attic to put aw ay some 
seasonal items. The door had several dead-bolt type locks and with all of her might she 
couldn't get a single one of them undone. This was not unusual because the heat of the 
summer often made the wooden doors swell. Giving up for the time being, she went back 

Burmeister 6 

downstairs to finish up her chores. A couple of hours later while carrying the laundry 
upstairs she noticed all of the locks had been opened and the attic door was standing wide 
open! (Greet). 

Although the beginning of the story remains the same, the end is ever changing 
and will be until Nellie's soul can somehow be put to rest. For most people the idea of 
living with a ghost is not a pleasant one, but the families who have lived in the Dunton 
house seem to embrace the idea of having their own poltergeist . 

Belvidere, Illinios (fall 2001) 

Jennifer Burmeister 
December 10, 2001 
Scott Fisher, Instructor 
English 101, NCE 1 

Works Cited 

Boone, Mark. "Nellie Dunton, Quiet and Polite, Drowned in the 
River Late One Night" Rockford Magazine Fall 1996: 


Doyle, Mike. "Time's Right for Tales of Ghosts, War Horses" 
Rockford Register Star 30 October 1997. 

Johnson, W.H. "Old Dunton Home" Heritage Days Booklet July 
1977: 4-5. 

Greef, Judy. Personal Interview. September 2001. 

"Miss Nellie Dunton Dies in Kishwaukee in Dead of Night" 
Belvidere Daily Republican 28 June 1920. 

Rogers, Kathy. "Visitor Raises More Than Question" 
Rockford Register Star 02 August 1977. 

Apples and Cider to Zig Zag Mazes 
Edwards Apple Orchard is the Place for All Ages 


Jennifer Cremeens 

Fall Semester 2001 -Rock Valley College 

English Composition I 

Jennifer Cremeens 
English 101 
Archival Essay 
24 November 2001 

Apples and Cider to Zig Zag Mazes 
Edwards Apple Orchard is the Place For All Ages 

In a time when people's lives are so busy and chaotic, there are few places one can 
go that reminds them of what America was built upon and a time when things were much 
simpler and peaceful. Edwards Apple Orchard is one of those places, but also much. 
much more. 

To get to Edwards, travel city to country from the intersection of Route 251 and 
highway 173 in Machesney Park, Illinois. Travel east on highway 1 73. Pass by the 
Rockford Speedway, which hosts the National Short Track Championships and has 
helped launch the careers of NASCAR'S Winston Cup stars Mark Martin and Rusty 
Wallace ( Rockford Speedway Online). 

Keep following 173 through the intersection of Perryville Road. Be sure to keep 
an eye open for deer and wild turkey, which are known to cross the road from Rock Cut 
State Park, located on the right. The park is home to 3,092 acres including two lakes. 
The fall season is a wonderful time to observe the thousands of hardwood trees with their 
dazzling colors of red and gold (Rock Cut State Park Online). 

Continuing eastward, notice off to the right, church steeples, which seem to float 
into the clouds above. These majestic steeples belong to the Willow Creek Presbyterian 
Church, which was erected in 1842. 

Travel east on 173, through the town of Caledonia. The town is quite small so 
make sure not to blink. 



Located on the left, about half a mile or so east, is the Pumpkin Patch. It is a stop 
for many families on their way to the Orchard. There people can pick out any size 
pumpkin they wish, visit their haunted shed or have a taste of their pumpkin doughnuts. 

Continue east through the four-way stop at the Junction of 76 and 1 73. The next 
four-way stop is Poplar Grove Road and Highway 173. Turn left onto Poplar Grove 
Road. Travel two miles north. Just past the Children's Farm on the left, is Centerville 
Road. Turn right traveling eastward. 

About a mile down the road, is a white colonial-style home and five freshly- 
painted red barns. One barn has the words "Big Apple Barn" printed on it which can be 
seen from the road. Off in the distance, there are endless rows of trees. Yes, this is 
Edward's Apple Orchard! 

The Orchard began in 1964, but before that it was a dairy farm owned by Bob 
Edwards, Sr. and his wife Betty. During the Great Depression of the 1930*s. the entire 
world economy was in a severe slump. The stock market plummeted, businesses failed 
and rural banks went under from farmers not able to pay on their notes. 

Bob Edwards, Sr. and his wife Audrey were no exception to this time of 
devastation. They lost their farm in Minnesota in 1935. With practically no money in tiis 
pocket he decided to take his family in a flatbed truck to Illinois. They settled in northern 
Illinois and rented farmland for fifteen years. With much scraping and saving, he was 
able to buy fifty-five acres of land in a town called Poplar Grove ("Orchard Patriarch Bob 
Edwards Dies" C 1 ) 

Poplar Grove was, and still is today, a small rural town, although it was an 

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important stop on the Chicago-through-Madison rail line. Many farmers shipped their 
crops to Chicago and other cities on the rail line ( Poplar Grove Online;. 

Bob Edwards ran a dairy farm and was the town's tax assessor. Working as an 
assessor he was able to meet everyone in the town. Edwards was a well-liked man and 
knew many stories of the town. People said he always had a story to tell. For over forty 
years he ran the dairy farm ("Orchard Patriarch Bob Edwards Dies"Cl ). 

Bob's son, Bob Edwards, Jr. had attended the University of Illinois and majored 
in agriculture. After graduating from college he went into the U.S. Air Force for two 
years. Leaving the Air Force, Bob Jr. taught agriculture in Dekalb, Illinois. He taught for 
six years when he decided to take a position with the National Peach Counsel as manager. 
Traveling all over the United States, visiting peach and fruit farms, Bob decided he 
wanted to begin his own farm in Illinois. After talking with his wife and children, they 
began looking for land. One day, while talking with his father, Bob Sr. asked his son 
why he wasn't interested in his land. Not long after that Bob Edwards Jr. began planting 
apple trees and reconstructing the dairy farm into the well-know apple orchard that 
everyone visits today (Edwards Interview). 

In 1964, the planning of the recreational farm was started. They planted 2.000 
semi-drawf apple trees with the help of a few high school boys. They also converted a 
small barn into a petting zoo for the children. In 1 965, another 1 .000 trees were planted 
bringing the total to 3,000 apple trees. Giving the trees a few years to mature, the farm 
opened for business in 1969. The Edwards family were the only full-time employees of 
the orchard (Edwards Interview). 


Bob and Betty worked on perfecting a recipe for apple cider doughnuts, hach 
doughnut had to be cranked out by hand. It took many years of adjusting the recipe to get 
the taste just right. The doughnuts became well known and the talk of many. More and 
more people came to visit the orchard and have some warm apple cider doughnuts. The 
bluegrass band was added for the enjoyment of the adults, which became a huge success. 
People enjoyed getting away from their daily lives and taking time out to enjoy some 
country music and living. 

More trees were planted to keep up with the crowd. After dealing with droughts 
and losing a great deal of his crop, Bob decided to add an irrigation system in 1971 . 
"This system brings water to each tree with a water emitter. Rain is always best, but this 
helped ensure us that we would have a decent crop of apples," Bob said (Edwards 

In 1973, a 100-foot by 50-foot addition was added on to the barn. This held the 
cider press and a large walk-in cooler. 

In 1976, with customers still increasing, they added on another addition, which 
became the salesroom. They also renovated the basement of the barn. Full of bullpens. it 
was remodeled into the cider celler. Creating a rustic feeling, they used large wooden 
spools that once contained wire for telephone companies, for tables and antique milk cans 
for stools. Here, customers could sit and enjoy coffee, hot apple cider, doughnuts, or 
caramel apples (Edwards Interview). 

Bob enjoyed collecting antiques, and having man) from his father's dair&gt; farm, he 
decided to change the barn used for selling apples to an antique farm muscuni. I he 

museum held many antiques dating all the way back to the 1 930s (See illustration on page 
9). Some of the items included: hayforks, the Edwards family's first electric toaster, a 
sauerkraut crock used by Bob's mother. There was the very first milking machine used 
by the Edward's family, which as Bob recalled, "This was a great invention, because it 
milked two cows at a time. Before this machine we had to milk every cow by hand.'" 
Other antiques include a 1938 and a 1948 Chevrolet. A 1940 Plymouth is parked in the 
barn, which Bob remembers taking Betty on dates in many times (Edwards Interview). 

In front of the farm museum a 1 3 1 -year-old bell hangs over a base made of 
concrete and stones gathered from the apple fields. The bell was given to the Edwards 
family from Capron Grange. It first hung at the Old Capron School in Capron. Illinois in 
1870. Many customers young and old, enjoy ringing the bell and hearing the beautiful 
tune (See illustration on page 9). 

In 1978 and 1979, the orchard struggled through hard weather. A deep freeze 
killed more than 3,000 trees ("Bob Edwards" CI ). The winters were hard and dropped 
large amounts of snow. The snow made it hard to prune the trees, which must be done 
while they are dormant in the winter. Not only combating the snow, but a late frost 
damaged about two-thirds of the trees (Edwards Interview). 

In 1981, Bob added a greenhouse for his daughter Mary, who graduated from 
college and majored in horticulture. It was quite successful. Two years later. Man 
married a dairy farmer. Her new husband needed her to help work on their farm, so the 
greenhouse was renovated to a hayloft for children to play in (Edwards Interview ). 

In 1984, Bob, ready to step back a little, decided to sell his farm to his daughter 

Barb and husband Ken Hall. He helped them add a third addition on to the barn to handle 
the still increasing customers. Bob's son, Mike, started an orchard west of Rockford in 
1988 (See illustrations on page 10). Bob Edwards traveled to each farm to help keep the 
farms going strong (Edwards Interview). 

Many more gift items were added to the orchard in 1 990. Bob's three daughters 
traveled all over the United States to purchase items from trade shows to sell at the 
orchard. Of course, to help accommodate the growing items, yet another fourth addition 
was added to the barn (Edwards Interview). 

Today, 2001, when one arrives at the orchard, they notice there is plenty of 
parking off to the side in a gravel lot. Walking towards the barn, one can see the rows of 
red and green picnic tables for people to feast upon. There are plenty of park benches 
where grownups can sit and enjoy the bluegrass music from that band that plays on the 
hay wagon. On a tall pole in the center of the picnic tables waves a radiant red. white and 
blue flag. It blows in the wind with great pride and symbolizes America farmlands. 

People can pick their own apples, from any of the 13,000 apple trees. One can 
also pick pumpkins or raspberries. Or if they may choose to, look through the old crib 
barn and pick out any of the brightly polished apples ("Edwards Orchard" pamphlet). 
Customers can find plenty of food to help keep their tummies full including, cheese. 
apple butter, honey, canned foods, jams, jellies and smoked meat to name a few. Or the\ 
may look through the beautiful decorations for fall, Halloween. Thanksgiving and 
Christmas. To pamper thyself, one can purchase sweaters, bath oils and candles. 

Some activities for the children include: pony rides, a petting /oo. a maze to get 

lost in, and a wooden train and some tractors to climb on (see illustration on page 1 1 ). 
Also, is a hayloft where children and adults, if daring, can roll in the hay. 

Still one of the most popular reasons for visiting the orchard is to taste their 
crispy, crusted apple-cider doughnuts. On a busy day, people wait 30 minutes for a dozen 
doughnuts. It is estimated they sell a dozen doughnuts every 30 seconds. That works out 
to 1,440 doughnuts in an hour or 14,000 doughnuts in ten hours ("The Doughnut 
Lady"Bl). Thank goodness they now have two machines that automatically crank the 
doughnuts out. 

The Edwards Apple Orchard employees include 181 full-time and part-time 
workers to help out in the fall season. Bob Edwards is grateful his business is such a 
success, but worries that the crowds will become too large for them to handle. "I don't 
like to think about the future. It is too scary; we may have to charge admission to try to 
keep the crowds down. We will worry about that, though, when the time comes," said 
Bob. The Edwards are very careful not to advertise but they can't control word of 
mouth. "The people of the Chicago suburbs have seem to found us and there are not 
really any other orchards around here," Bob Edwards remarked (Edwards Interview). 

Bob says his greatest accomplishment is the close ties his family has with each 
other. They have all worked together through good and bad times and have learned the 
most important thing is family. Bob Edwards, Sr. passed away in 1994. but still is greath 
remembered for his love of farming and his great spirit. Bob. Jr. says he is very proud o( 
his children all graduating college. His son Mike is owner of Edwards Apple Orchard 
West; his daughter Barb and her husband Ken run the original orchard. I lis daughter 

Mary and her husband run a dairy farm. His youngest son, Rob, is a music teacher in 
Rockford, Illinois and his youngest, daughter, Suzy is a third grade teacher in Manchester, 
Illinois (Edwards Interview). With all this, they still make time to help out at the orchard. 
Edwards Apple Orchard has grown from a small rural farm to a roaring successful 
business. With all the changes it still has one thing the same, the feeling of history and 
country living. One can take a short countryside drive, fall after fall, to remind them of 
the past and how farming was the foundation of America. The orchard rejuvenates their 
spirit and reacquaints themselves with their ancestors. 


The main barn with all its additions. 

Entrance to the Big Apple barn. 

Bell was erected in Sept. 1 870 at 
Old Capron School and was 
rededicated by Betty and Bob 
Edwards in 1978 at the orchard. 

The Farm Museum full of antiques dating 
back to the 1830s. 


Activities at Orchard West... 

Play in the 

Peek in at some bunnies! 

Fun Activities For Kids! 

Cremeens-l 1 

Ride on a pony! 

Feed and pet the animals! 

or climb on the tractors. 


Works Cited 

"Bob Edwards." Rockford Register Star 23 September 1 991 : 1 C. 

Edwards, Bob. Personal interview. 16 October 2001 . 

"Edwards Orchard." Pamphlet. No Author. No date. 

Hall, Ken. "Farm Nostalgia for Family Enjoyment." Pamphlet. No Date. 

"Orchard Patriarch Bob Edwards Dies" Rockford Register Star 17 October 1994:2A. 

Poplar Grove, Illinois website. Online. Internet. 15 September 2001. 

Rock Cut State Park website. Online. Internet. 1 5 September 200 1 . 

Rockford Speedway website. Online. Internet. 15 September 2001. 

"The Doughnut Lady" Rockford Register Star 1 8 September 1 997: 1 B. 

The Erlander Home Museum 


LuAnn Smith 

Fall Semester 2001 - Rock Valley College 

English Composition 1 

10 December 2001 

The Erlander Home Museum 

In the midst of Rockford's national historical district, Haight Village, the Erlander 
Home Museum stands proud among the many larger wooden structures surrounding it. 
To visit the historical site, one must travel a short distance off the Interstate IL-90. The 
trip is very easy, since there are only three different streets to travel. Travel westbound on 
State Street approximately 6 miles, turning southbound on Kishwaukee Street, and finally 
westbound on 3 rd Avenue. 

Swedish immigration was at an all time high in the late 1800's (Sweden). There 
were not enough jobs available in Sweden during these times and thousands left Sweden. 
Most went to America. New York was the destination and at the end of their journey they 
found themselves too tired to continue, so many Swedes remained in New York City 
(New York). However, the more adventurous continued out west to live in states such as 
Illinois. They left their homeland and agricultural ways in pursuit of the American 

Their new lives were not always easy. Many used all of their finances on their 
passage leaving very little means to continue their journey out west. 

Among these Swedish immigrants were three young adventurous siblings: John. 
Peter, and Katie Erlander. The three grew up in Smaland, Sweden, near the cit) of 
Gotenburg, a major seaport well known for its chief shipbuilding industries (Sweden) 

Smith 2 

The Erlanders pooled their funds together for the trip. Upon arrival to New York, 
the Erlanders made plans to continue west to Chicago where plentiful opportunities 
awaited them. The threesome traveled across the country from New York to Chicago in 
1854. Chicago was home for one year ("Birthplace of Industry"). Chicago was a 
booming city rich with family-operated businesses on almost every corner, but did not 
match up to the beauty of Sweden's many forests. The brothers made another major 
family decision to leave the many warehouses and pollution of Chicago behind them and 
continue the search for their promise land.( Swedish Heritage , vol. 1987) 

Divided by the Rock River, Rockford was the destination decided upon by the 
Erlander brothers. The two knew at once their decision was perfect, as many residents in 
Rockford were of Swedish descent. 

A carpenter by trade, Peter landed a job as an apprentice working under the 
guidance of C.J. Lindholm. John continued working as a tailor in Rockford for S.R. 
Franklin. John brought with him from Chicago the knowledge of modem technology and 
persuaded his employer to purchase Rockford's first automated sewing machine. John 
was the automated sewing machine's first operator ("2-Story"). Many were skeptical of 
John's business abilities after he purchased Rockford's first sewing machine, but as the 
years went by, John proved himself to be one of Rockford's prominent businessmen. 

John met and became best of friends with a fellow Swede, Sven August Johnson. 
Sven and John quickly took their friendship to a higher level and became partners of a 
small clothing shop on East State Street. The shop of Erlander &amp; Johnson was the fust 
retail establishment in Rockford located on the second floor of the Peacock Building, 

Smith 3 

which later became the City Hall ("Birthplace of Industry"). Sven and John had visions 
of becoming great businessmen highly valued for their expertise and unique fashions. 

John's personal life was also on an uphill climb. John met and married Christine 
Peterson shortly before Christmas in 1855. John purchased a lot on South 2 nd Street for 
$100 and with Peter's help built his family their first home in Rockford ("2-Story"). 
Within a year, Christine was expecting their first child. The birth of his son, William was 
short-lived with the loss of his young wife seven months later ( Swedish Heritage , vol. 

Two years after his first marriage John married Ingas Peterson, the sister of his 
late wife. Over the next fourteen years, John's family grew with the delivery of their 
seven children ( Swedish Heritage , vol. 1985). It was apparent and a necessity that a 
move to a larger house was in the Erlander's future. 

Sven and John were still partners and their friendship grew stronger over the 
years. The partners made a pact that they would always be friends and their families 
would grow up together in the city that had been so good to them. Erlander and Johnson 
purchased three adjacent lots on South 3 ld Street to build their families' future homes ("2- 
Story"). Before construction, several members of the First Congregational Church met 
with the partners and persuaded the men to sell the property to the church for construction 
of their community building. Erlander and Johnson were Rockford businessmen devoted 
to their city and believed in giving back to the community. It was this belief of giving 
back that drove their decision to sell their adjacent lots. The [tanners sold their adjacent 
lots to the church and settled on two parcels not adjacent to each other, but close enough 
to continue being neighbors. Johnson purchased the corner lot at the corner of 

Smith ^ 

Kishwaukee Street and 3 rd Avenue and Erlander purchased the lot on South 3 rd Street ("2- 

The two houses were identically constructed with one exception being Erlander 
built his home out of brick ( Swedish Heritage , vol. 1985). Speculation has it that John 
was inspired by the masonry work being completed by H.F. Peterson on the First 
Congregational Church, a few blocks down the street, chose brick over wood. Perhaps 
driven by a man's desire to make history and have the first brick house built and owned 
by a Swedish immigrate was John's inspiration. 

According to A. D. Erlander, John &amp; Ingas' oldest son, "It was just built." 
("Birthplace of Industry"). No architect drawings or elaborate designs, John &amp; Sven 
employed local tradesmen to construct their homes. Petter Svensson-Rask concentrated 
his effort on the first floor interior design, while John's brother Peter finished the second 
floor ("2-Story"). 

In the late 1800s, Rockford was becoming fairly recognized for its opportunities 
in business. In 1870, Amos W. Woodward issued his first patent and started what is 
currently the Woodward Governor Company ("Welcome to Rockford, Illinois"). A year 
later, and the same year John Erlander was contracting the construction of his new home 
on South 3 rd Street, Rockford's council approved a contact to build a third bridge to span 
the Rock River at State Street. In 1875, Andrew C. Johnson organized the citj s first 
furniture factory, Forest City Furniture. Within a year, a small group of disgruntled 
Forest City Furniture workers pooled their money and took a and organized yet 
another furniture factory, Rockford Union Furniture Company ("Welcome to Rockford, 
Illinois"). Similar to the ownership concept of today's auto industry, Saturn, the Union 

Smith 5 

Furniture Company was organized on a cooperative plan. The workers surrendered a 
portion of their wages in return for stock in the company. Additional funding was 
required and they gathered at the home of a prominent businessman to discuss investing 
opportunities from some local Swedish merchants. That prominent businessman was 
John Erlander. He was named president of this new furniture company and launched the 
path of his successful business career ("2-Story"). In 1860, he led a group of 48 Swedish- 
Americans who marched twenty plus miles to Freeport, Illinois to cast their vote for 
Abraham Lincoln (Nelson, pp. 66). Erlander also organized the Scandinavian Cemetery 
Association and was supervisor of the 2 nd Ward for twelve years (Nelson, pp. 66). 

The Union Furniture Company specialized in dining room and library furniture, 
music cabinets, mirrors, hall seats, occasional tables, and bedroom furniture. Many 
pieces created by these Swedish craftsmen are on exhibit at the Erlander Home Museum, 
and some original pieces belonging to John Erlander also remain on exhibit. 

Through the Great Depression years of the 1930s, many suffered hardships and 
stories have it that the Erlanders were proud people keeping their troubles to themselves. 
Once a very prominent Rockford family, John Erlander's descendants were not excluded 
from these hardships and many articles from the house were sold for the much needed 
income ("Mary Erlander &amp; The Gilded Age"). A balloon chair was sold to a young 
gentleman during the depression in order to pay taxes. Later the chair was returned to the 
home when the family heard the Swedish Historical Society purchased the home. 
Visitors to the museum have the pleasure of stepping back in time and seeing first hand 
the unique craftsmanship. Unlike the furniture made today, these pieces displa) 
wonderfully delicate carvings chiseled for days on end by human hands and seem to take 

Smith 6 

on the characteristics of its creator. Today's assembly line furniture does not compare., 
even though, many factories attempt to recreate yesterday's masterpieces with computer 
laser technology and a bag of old bolts and screws. 

The Swedish Historical Society purchased the home from John's only surviving 
child, Mary, in 1951. As amusing as it sounds, the home was build 80 years earlier 
without electric hookups and remained without the luxury until the Society furnished the 
modernized electricity after their purchase ("Mary Erlander &amp; The Gilded Age"). Mary 
was only one year old when John moved his family into the home on South 3 r and spent 
the next eighty years living there. During her twenties, Mary enrolled in art classes at 
Rockford College and there found her true passion. Throughout the home, Mary's 
paintings offer delight to its visitors. 

In 1985, the Swedish Historical Society hired Kurt Bell for a restoration project 
involving the front parlor and sitting room. Kurt employed a Victorian decor specialist, 
Zadia Ladd Brown, to assist with choosing the correct colors and patterns for the walls as 
well as the fabric on the furniture restorations. Several layers of paint were removed and 
intensive tests were performed on the last layer to determine the original color. The 
evidence revealed a brownish pumpkin color, which is a big contrast to the white paint 
that was removed. Old photographs revealed a beautiful border of flowers about twelve 
inches below the ceiling as well as around the baseboards. Interviews held uncovered the 
border's origin. Art Heunkemaier came forward and told the flower border's story. Art. 
as a young man, visited the home on several occasions and recalls Mary painting the lilies 
on the walls in the sitting room. Mary's wonderful lilies laid dormant under the main 

Smith 7 

years of paint, until in the late 1980's when these photographs revived their splendor. 
("Mary Erlander &amp; The Gilded Age") 

The ceiling painting was also revealed with old photographs. However, contrary 
to a creation by Mary, this painting was original to the home. Research uncovered that a 
fresco artist, Aaron Lawson, well-known in Rockford during the late 1 880s, created this 

If walls could talk, they would tell stories of the many changes taking place within 
the home on South 3 rd Street. These walls have stood strong. They have seen the many 
different phases, but in the end, all good things remain the same. 

Once the backyard was filled with the sounds of carefree children playing, 
whereas, now the only laughter heard from the backyard is the occasional children who 
skipped out the backdoor of the museum while their parents reminisce inside. This scene 
is very different from the days remembered by Marjorie Nelson Marrow, a 75-year-old 
native of Rockford, who remembers how much she enjoyed her visits to the backyard 
back when she was only 8 or 10 (Marrow interview). During the "Great Depression" era 
Marjorie was one of the young girls among the many neighbor children invited for 
afternoon tea with the Erlanders. Marjorie remembers the wonderful tea parties hosted by 
John Erlander's descendents, Hannah, Mary, and Alfred. To this day, Marjorie cannot 
explain why she and the children were drawn to Erlanders. The Erlanders living in the 
house did not have children of their own and Marjorie, being only around eight at the 
time, thought the three owners were terribly old, but remembers feeling very al case w ith 
the friendliness and affections of the Erlanders. "Funny thing about m\ memory. 1 can 
tell you we enjoyed tiny sandwiches and cookies, but I can't remember w hai we drank. 

Smith '"- 

Mary always invited the neighbor children to her tea parties, but we never did have tea," 
recalls Marjorie. 

Marjorie visits the home occasionally and has asked several tour guides about the 
one thing she remembers most, the gold castle. No one knows the history of the gold 
castle, but Marjorie can still picture its grandeur. The magnificent piece held cigars and 
the steps leading up the tower served as a means for lighting matches. The piece 
impressed her as a small child and still does today as she remembers back. 

A visit to the Erlander Home Museum introduces the Victorian elegance of the 
late nineteenth century. The restoration offers the experience of living in the time when 
the home was the residence of a very prominent Rockford businessmen, John Erlander. 
Tour guides in the main entry greet visitors where grand portraits of John and Ingas 
oversee all visitors. A story told by the tour guides reveals that John's portrait hung alone 
for several years until the second portrait found in an upstairs closet was discovered and 
identified as John's wife, Ingas (Gustafson &amp; Kelly interviews). The walls and ceilings 
have been restored with intricate stenciling and artwork of John's daughter, Mary. Much 
of the furniture in the house is the original including a chest made in Sweden for use in 
the family's trip to America ("Erlander Home To Be Museum") or pieces made b\ 
Swedish craftsmen employed in Rockford's early furniture factories. The next best thing 
to a guided tour would be to attend one of the two very special social events preserving 
the Swedish heritage: Midsummer's Day held in June or the Lucia Fest held in early 
December. But, to get that true feeling of being part of something that's older and larger 
than you, visit the historical site. What will be waiting for you is the thrill of exploring 


architectural clues, finding hidden treasure in Mary's paintings on the walls and getting 
those walls to "talk" to you about it's past. 

Works Cited 
"Birthplace of Industry." Rockford Register Star 8 October 1 97 1 
Rockfordiana Files, Rockford Public Library. 

"Erlander Home To Be Museum." Rockford Register Star 20 August 1 957 
Rockfordiana Files, Rockford Public Library. 

Gustafson, Eleanor. Personal Interview. 404 South 3 rd Street, Erlander Home Museum, 

Rockford, IL. 20 Oct. 2001. 
Kelley, Jane. Personal Interview. 404 South 3 rd Street, Erlander Home Museum, 

Rockford, IL. 20 Oct. 2001. 
Marrow, Majorie. Telephone Interview. 24 Oct. 2001. 
"Mary Erlander &amp; The Gilded Age, A Women 's Sphere. " Erlander Home Museum 

brochure. February 4, 2001 through May 8, 2001 . 

Nelson, C. Hal, ed. We, the People . . . of Winnebago County. Rockford, Illinois: 

Founders of the Union Co. pages 66, 67. 
New York Tour Book, American Automobile Association (AAA), 1 996. 
Smith, LuAnn. Photo. Front View 404 South 3 ,d Street. 9/15/2001. 
Smith, LuAnn. Photo. Back View 404 South 3 rd Street. 9/15/2001. 
Smith, LuAnn. Photo. North Side View of windows 404 South 3 rd Street. 9 23 2001 . 
Smith, LuAnn. Photo. View with wrap around porch 404 South 3 ld Street. ^ 23 2001. 
Smith, LuAnn. Photo. Front Entrance 404 South 3 ,a Street. 23 2001. 

Smith, LuAnn. Photo. Backyard View with birdbath 404 South 3 rd Street. 9/23/2001 . 
Smith, LuAnn. Photo. South Side with Valance 404 South 3 rd Street. 9/23/2001. 
Sweden. World Book, Inc., World Book Online Encyclopedia; Back In Time. 
Swedish Heritage, Local History &amp; Genealogy, Rockford Public Library. 

Vol. 1985 
Swedish Heritage, Local History &amp; Genealogy, Rockford Public Library. 

Vol. 1987 
Swedish Historical Society of Rockford. "Erlander Home Museum." Online. Internet. l&gt;. 
"2-Story Brick Dwelling has Historic Background." Star 26 Sept 46. 

Rockfordiana Files, Rockford Public Library. 
"Welcome to Rockford, Illinois. " Chronological History. 

South Side View with Valance 
Dated: 9/15/2001 

Backyard View with birdbath 
Dated: 9/15/2001 

t 1 

P" ■&gt;"I'I!j J 

Back View 
Dated: 9/15/2001 

Front View 
Dated: 9/15/2001 

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Front Entrance 
Dated: 9/15/2001. 


View with wrap around porch. 
Dated: 9/15/2001. 



Leaving a Legacy at First Assembly of God in Rockford 

Kirsten Kosikas 

Fall Semester- Rock Valley College 

English Composition I 

Kirsten Kosikas 
English 101 Section DT2 
20 November 2001 

Leaving A Legacy At Ekst Assembly of God in Rockford 

First Assembly of God church in Rockford has had a steady growth to what has 
now become one of the most influential and respected Pentecostal churches in the nation. 
It has matured with great leaders with new ideas of expansion to further the turf for God's 
work. Although it has endured many physical changes in the last 20 years, the church 
remains the same in all of its beliefs and goals. 

At a time in the world when biblical belief and practice were wavering, after the 
Civil War period, a revival broke out that changed the nation ( Because We Believe ). 
Small groups of people were studying the New Testament for patterns of worship and 
ministry. These people accepted God and spoke in tongues. In 2 Acts, it says that the 
Holy Spirit descended on Jesus and his disciples during Pentecost. This is where the term 
Pentecostal is derived from, and the basis on which Pentecostal churches differ from 
other denominations ( Because We Believe ). 

This movement grew, despite the many skeptics that tried to suppress the first 
converts. By 1914. hundreds of Pentecostal congregations were spread across the nation. 
On April 7 th . 1914. the General Council of Assemblies of God was formed. The council 
unanimously decided to make a church that had sovereignty to govern itself, but to have a 
structure that would preserve Pentecostal distinctive and impact the world for Christ 

( Because We Believe ). The beginnings of First Assembly began not too long after the 
movement and had the same goals in mind, to impact the world for Christ. 

Olga V. Olson, a graduate from North Central Bible College in Minneapolis. 
Minnesota, is accredited with the first meeting that started First Assembly of God church. 
She gathered the meeting in a hall on Seventh Street in 1 929 in Rockford. Illinois for 
those eager to start a church family. These people formed a strong unity and in 1935 they 
gave it its name ( First Assembly 50 th Anniversary 2). 

The first property owned by the church, purchased in 1935. was a lot on First 
Avenue and was led by Pastor CTGuin. This was later sold and a lot on Second Avenue 
was bought and construction began for this site and the laws of the church's constitution 
were also being adopted at this time ( First Assembly 50 lh Anniversary 2 ). 

During the country's time of upheaval during WWII. Reverend Harry Sty me 
preached hope to those in need. After the war ended. Reverend E.L. Stalons headed up 
the church building projects, but the journey continued to its present destination ( First 
Assembly 50 th Anniversary 3). 

Reverend A. Manly helped relocate the church to North Alpine as the next site, 
which is presently the home of McDonalds. At last. Reverend E. Whitcomb led the \\a&gt; 
to constructing First Assembly's current site on Mulford and Spring Creek. 

Funds from the sale of the lot on North Alpine paved the \\a\ to bu\ tng the new 
lot with a profit of $80,000. In 1968, under one of the greatest pastors in First AssembK 
history. Reverend Whitcomb, the fifteen acres of farmland on the corner of Spring Creek 
and Mulford Road was bought for $1 30. ()()()( First Assembh 50 th Anniversary 4). 

At the same time the sanctuary was being built, an elementary school v\as also 
undergoing development. This would enable the church to fulfill its missions. 
""Education, evangelism, and preaching the word of God" as stated by Pastor Mike Elias 
of First Assembly. The school and the sanctuary were finally completed in 1971 ( First 
Assembly 50 th Anniversary 5). 

In 1973, the gym of the elementary school was finished as well as the 
Intermediate Wing A, which connects the school and the sanctuary areas. In 1974. 
Intermediate Wing B was also done, both of these allowing for more rooms for Sunda&gt; 
School, as well as conference rooms. In 1974, the kindergarten was also established to 
continue to broaden the spectrum of education in ages ( First Assembly 50 th Anniversan 

The Fireside Room, which was done by 1975, is currently a center for various 
events ranging from seminars to a place of worship for age - span ministries. Also, in the 
same year, the underground and Kiddie College were completed. The underground is 
now the home of the Rockford Master's Commission, one of the most influential 
ministries to revolutionize Rockford. The Kiddie College offers the opportunity for pre- 
school-aged children to develop social skills while learning about Cod ( 1'lias lnter\ iew i. 

Christian Life High School was completed in 1978. and at the same lime, plans 
were being laid out for a newer, bigger sanctuary. The ground - breaking ceremonies for 
the new sanctuary were held on " Old Fashioned Sunday," Jul) 1986, led b&gt; pastor Ron 
Hembree ( First Assembly 50 th Anniversary 7). 

The latest and greatest innovation for First Assembly, the new sanctuary, was 
completed in 1987, and the first service held in that sanctuary to seat 5. 000 was held on 
Easter Sunday, 1988 ( First Assembly 50 th Anniversary 3). 

The church has not only grown as a building, expanding more than double its size- 
since its birth, but has grown in membership, and matured as a people with a passion to 
touch the lives of those literally all around the world. Although the purpose of the church 
will always remain a place of worship, "We have changed the approach to reach new 
crowds", according to pastor Mike Elias. 

Master's Commission is one of the greatest examples of this. It is a yearlong 
discipleship-training course that completely surrounds its students in a godly 
environment. Krystee Wylder, a graduate of Masters stated." It has showed me that there 
is more to life than myself. The people there are real, it changed my perception of 
Christianity completely." 

One of the focuses of Master's is reaching out to inner city kids with a ministr\ 
called the Net. This gets the gospel out to children who may not be able to attend a 
church. The motto of Master's Commission is 'To love God and make him known": so 
far they are achieving this goal. 

The additions onto the church have been there solely to increase the grounds for 
continuing with First Assembly's mission. For example, the Underground holds all 
business locations for Master's Commission. 

Pastor Whitcomb was probably one of the remarkable leaders to encounter this 
church. It was his genius that started the church and his death in l' r 4 shook the whole 

On the way home from a missions trip. Pastor Whitcomb. along with four other 
men, died in a plane crash on September 1 1 "'. 1 974. 1 V. crews from every station came 
to cover the story. Churches from all over the area expressed deepest sympathies. Pastor 
Elias, who gave funeral services for all the men. commented on the effect this had on the 
entire community. 

After this tragic event, Pastor Ernest Moen took up leadership and the church 
began to expand massively. In the original sanctuary, there were three morning services 
accumulating 1, 000 people in a single Sunday. 

By the time the present 5, 000- seat sanctuary was completed: First Assembly had 
also acquired two radio stations that are presently still popular. 

In 1989. Pastor Sam Mayo took the reigns one the church and his wife, Jeanne 
Mayo, led the teen ministry, Cross Current, on of the nation's largest youth groups. She 
also was superintendent of Christian Life High School. With their arrival, plans for more 
classrooms and a new high school gym were underway in 1994. They are now completed. 

Sadly, the Mayos are resigning leadership of First Assembly. This is a ver\ recent 
event made clear to the church only a week ago. Sunday. November 28 , 2001 . The) 
assure that the church will continue in its mission and grow. 

It's hard to believe that only 20 years ago. First Assembl) was surrounded b\ 
cornfields and is now as massive as is presently is. From the beginning, it has onl\ added 
on and every original structure remains. According to pastor I'lias. " First Assembl) has 
shown a slow but steady growth necessary for a church." This is necessarj however to 
ensure that the foundation holds true, something very important to not onl\ the 
infrastructure, but for the people who make this place what it is and will become 


First Assembly 50* Anniversary booklet: Author Unknown. Rockford, Illinois. Printed in 


Elias, Mike. Personal Interview. September 2001. 

Elias. Mike. Personal Interview. October 2001. 

Mayo. Sam. Personal Interview. September 2001. 

Valentine, Dan. Personal Interview. October 2001 . 

Sullivan. Sherry. Personal Interview. September 2001. 

Wylder, Krystee. Personal Interview. December 2001 . 

Because We Believe. Office of Information. 1987. 

The First Congregational Community Church 
Built and Standing On Common Ground 

Anna T. Johnson 

Fall Semester 2001-Rock Valley College 

English Composition I 

Anna Johnson 

English 101 

10 December 2001 

First Congregational Community Church: Built and Standing On Common Ground 

The historic First Congregational Community Church of Roscoe still stands today 
as a true testament to overcoming hardship and struggles. There is an old saying, "True 
beauty comes from the inside out." This holds true when talking about The First 
Congregational Community Church. On the outside it looks charming and quaint, while 
on the inside it exudes a simple elegance. In visiting it, one would be hard-pressed to 
guess that it is actually 158 years old. Even after these years of hardship and struggle, 
it still stands gracefully tall, on the common ground it was erected on. 

Several New England people accustomed to the Congregational way and order, 
were instrumental in forming the church. A preliminary meeting was held in the 
Roscoe home of Alvin Leland in November of 1843. Four ministers were present. Also 
present were Mr. Pierson, a student of Yale Divinity School, and several Roscoe people 
who wanted to discuss and include their opinions. Reverend Ebenezer Brown was 
engaged as the first minister. He was affectionately known as "Parson Brown" (Taylor 
Info. Sheet). 

Solomon Leland and his brother Alvin Leland, came to Illinois from 
New England. Alvin opened the first store in Roscoe in 1838. Solomon Leland acquired, 
and then generously donated, the spacious site of the present church along \\ ith the 
"common," which is a spacious open green space that serves as a park m the front 
of the church. That park still exists today, and is enjoyed by the \\ hole community (Moore- 
Melton Info. Sheet). 

In 1846, an intense difference in sentiment arose in the church over the question 
of Negro-slavery in the south. The nation was in horrendous turmoil over this moral, 
social and industrial issue. The pastor of the church at this turbulent time was 
Reverend Theorin Loomis. He was educated in Oberlin, Ohio, the very storm center 
of the anti-slavery movement. He urged the strongest measures against slaveholders, 
even to the withdrawal of Christian fellowship. This policy infuriated several of the 
leading members. Many of these families withdrew from the church (Moore-Melton Info. Sheet). 

Then, in 1854, the church felt the need of a worship place to call its own. 
At first the desire was to locate the building west of the creek toward the river 
bridge. Then the gift of the present church site by Solomon Leland turned out 
to be an answer to their prayers. Solomon and Alvin Leland raised much of the 
money from their friends in the east toward the expense of building this church. 
They then used their pilgrim missionary carpentry skills to build the church themselves (Taylor 
Info. Sheet). 

In 1858, the church had a mere 23 members. Even though they were few 
in numbers, that did not dampen their spirits. They embarked on the next to impossible 
mission, to continue regular worship. A rapid succession of poorly- paid 
ministers, short terms of service, and long intervals of being pastorless, fill the pages of 
the church books. If it had not been for the Beloit College faculty, who w ore so rich in 
missionary spirit, the Roscoe Congregational church surely would not have survh ed (Dom d p. 7). 

Then in 1858, Reverend Horatio Isley of Dixon, Illinois was called in. He 
arrived with his large family on May I st . In June, a tragic calamity V isited Roscoe 

Rains set in with unusual downfall and persistence. 

The Chicago and Northwestern railway embankment east of the village had too small a 
culvert. The flood-waters dammed up, filling the valley to the east. The pressure broke 
through the embankment, angry torrent tore down upon the village, tumbling houses into 
the raging stream. The house of Pastor Isley stood on the south. The deluge swept away 
this home with all its inhabitants. Mrs. Isley and eight children were drowned. Mr. Isley 
somehow managed to get to a large tree and hung on to a high branch. His cries were 
heard in the early morning by Mr. Lionel W. Richardson, who at the risk of his own life, 
swam through the surging waters and rescued Reverend Isley. Four months later, 
grieving the sudden and devastating loss of his entire family, Reverend Isley left the 
church (Dowd p. 7-8). 

Over the next several years, many pastors are listed in the records. In 1878, 
Professor H.M. Whitney of Beloit College generously supplied the leadership. The 
church began to state its membership. There were 49 names on the rolls. The name of 
Thomas B. Moore appears in the minutes, now serving on a committee. He was the 
great-grandfather of Judith Moore-Melton (Taylor Info. Sheet). 

The next church era proved to be one of solidification, expansion and efficient 
organization. Better days were ahead with the permanent and prolonged ministry of 
Reverend Samuel W. Eaton, D.D. The strong leadership of Dr. and Mrs. Eaton began 
to show results in January 1888, for the church voted to make offerings far missionary 
societies every two months (Dowd p. 14). 

The first report of the bible school superintendent appears in 1890. Another 

first was the observance of Good Friday evening when Dr. Eaton gave an impressive 
sermon. Then on Easter Sunday morning, nine people were accepted as new members. 
During the first five years of Dr. Eaton's ministry, he was blessed with the invaluable 
voluntary help of Reverend Erastus Colton, known and revered as Father Colton. 
He served as the unoffical associate minister serving the congregation generously on 
his own time. Father Colton died in 1893. He was blessed with 86 years of life (Dowd p. 16). 

By 1900, the church roll had grown to an astounding 1 19 names. Dr. Eaton's 
health continued to decline and led to his resignation in 1902. Reverend M.N. Clark 
of Harvard, Illinois then took over the duties of the pulpit. He suffered serious injuries 
from an accident and resigned his position in 1904. Reverend Quincy L. Dowd then 
accepted and started what turned out to be a very long term of service (Taylor Info. Sheet). 

There were no church records available from 1915 to 1939. 

After much struggle and tireless perseverance, the church celebrated its 100 1 
anniversary on November 29, 1943. Letters from former members were read and the 
history was given. Reverend Claude Warren from Rockton Federated Church gave 
the address, "History of Congregationalism in the U.S." The celebration then moved 
to the community house where a chicken noodle soup supper was served. There were 
about a 100 people there (Rocha). 

It is a true testament to those pilgrim builders that the original church still stands 
today. A committee was formed to look into the cost of an addition. In 1 957, the plan 
to add the basement, Sunday school room, dining room, wash rooms and a kitchen were 
approved. Unlike some renovations that are done to historic places, its firm foundation 


and natural charm and beauty, remain untouched. Judy Melton recalls, "1 remember when 
they jacked the church up and dug out the basement, what a sight that was" (Moore-Melton 
interview). New pews were purchased in 1965 and brass plates marked the names of the donors. 

In 1980, Reverend George Hartz became the pastor. He celebrated his 25 l 
ordination anniversary in 1981. A potluck dinner was held in his honor. A budget 
of $17,050 was approved in 1984 as the first phase of a move towards having a 
full-time minister. In 1986, the church decided unanimously to join the United 
Church of Christ. The constitution and by-laws were changed accordingly, and 
a celebration was held. 

In 1992, Reverend Hartz retired. There was a retirement party honoring him 
and wife Mary, for their many years of service. He was presented with a monetary 
gift, a walking stick, and a birdhouse replica of the church. 

A search committee was formed and met every two weeks to read and review 
profiles of possible new candidates. They were blessed with full approval and a budget 
to match, to hire their first full time minister. They completed their mission by bringing 
in Reverend Richard Pearson. Pastor Richard had been preaching and teaching on a part-time 
basis in Wisconsin. The same week that Pastor Richard called the National Congregational 
Church Office to inquire about becoming a full-time minister. First Congregational Community 
Church of Roscoe called their office inquiring about obtaining a full-time minister (Pearson 
interview). Pastor Richard preached his candidacy sermon on December 1 9, 1 993 and \\ as 
unanimously voted in by the congregation on that same day, just in tunc to celebrate the church's 
150 th anniversary in the summer of 1994. It was definitely a match made in hea\ en. 

This author just recently became a member of this historic and very special place. 

It has the old charm and quaintness of a little country church with all the modern conveniences. 

They make their own decisions on what mission work they want to do, and everyone pitches 

in both with their hands and their pocketbooks to get the work done. 

Fellowship with one another is very important part of the ministry of the church. 

Fellowship after church with home baked goodies and refreshments is frequently held 

down stairs. There are also many dinners and special events held there throughout the year. 

Patricia Moser recalls, "I remember the annual turkey dinners. We used to roast 6-8 turkeys. 

All the high school students would serve the dinner" (Moser Interview). Judy Melton states, 

"My fondest memories are of all the parties and good times that I've had here" (Moore-Melton 


The original founding members of the church wanted it to be very community focused 

and diligent in helping and meeting the needs of the people in their community, not just the 

members of their church. That core purpose and philosophy of the church still exists today. 

Recently, they had a retreat to re-examine their mission and vision statements. The mission 

statement remains unchanged stating, "We celebrate the Freedom of our Fellowship and Faith 

in Ministry. The new vision of the church is: 

To be a caring community involved in spiritual growth of each person, encouraging 
their faith and participation in a God centered life. To celebrate God's presence through 
our individual gifts in worship, ministry and mission according to God's w bid. To be 
inclusive by being open to new ideas while maintaining the importance of our traditions 

In capturing the true essence of this church Pastor Richard expresses it best. 

"We don't exist just for ourselves. The purpose of the chinch is to w Oiship God and then 

love one another as we have been loved. People in this church really support each other 
and have helped my family as well as many other families" (Pearson interview). 

This church is a true testament to how each one of us has the ability to persevere 
through hardship and struggles. It was built on "common" ground to represent the spirit of 
unity in the community in which it was resurrected. 

Mrst congregational Community ctourcb 

Roscoe, Illinois 




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Our Congregation's Mission Statement: 

We celebrate the Freedom of our Faith and 

Fellowship in Ministry Together. 

As we begin this 21st century, we as a 
Congregational Church remain true to our 
heritage as stated in our mission statement. 

We seek to minister personally to each 

individual and yet value the importance of 

the "Whole Body of Christ." The bond of 

our fellowship is in our sincere conviction 

as lived out in daily acts of faith. 

God's Blessings! 

Council Members 

Works Cited 

Burt, Brad. First Congregational Community Church. Rock ford Register Star. 

30 July 1998. Rockfordiana Files, Rockford Public Library. 
Dowd, Q.L, Reverend. Early History ofRoscoe And It 's Congregational Church. 

Roscoe, Illinois, 1943. 
Moore-Melton, Judith. The First Congregational Community Church. 

Information Sheet. Roscoe, Illinois, November 1983. 
Moore-Melton, Judith. In-person interview. 10 October 2001 . 
Moser, Patricia. In-person interview. 8 November 2001. 
Olan Mills. First Congregational Community Church. Directory. April 2000. 
Pearson, Pastor Richard. Telephone interview. 25 November 2001 . 
Rocha, Toni. Roscoe 's Congregational Church celebrates. Herald/Roscoe on the 

Grow 23 March 1994. 
Taylor, Gail. History Of The Roscoe Congregational Church. Information Sheet. 

Roscoe, Illinois, September 1994. 
"The Flood of 1858". The Star. 06 October 1875. Rockfordiana Files. 

Rockford Public Library. 
Warner Press, Inc. First Congregational Community Church. Program. 

14 October 2001. 

Goldie's: Rockford's Own Inkslinger's Haven 

Josh Mershon 

Fall Semester 2001 Rock Valley College 

English Composition I 

Mershon 1 

Josh Mershon 
Eng 101 
Archival essay 

Goldie's: Rockford's Own InkslinRer's Haven 

Northern Illinois' oldest tattoo shop has become a pioneer for the opening of 
many other tattoo shops in the Rockford area. Rockford has experienced the opening of 
four or five new tattoo shops within the past few years. This writer has seen the tattoo 
industry become more mainstream throughout his 18 years of being alive. Goldie's 
Tattoo is Northern Illinois' oldest tattoo parlor (Yellow Pages). Before there was 
Goldie's at 1304 Broadway, there was King's Farm Dairy (Rockford City Directory). 
Soon after about a half a dozen restaurants occupied it until the arrival of Goldie's 
(Rockford City Directory). There was much controversy over Goldie's when it first 
opened up in 1978 (Bev Mason). Yet many did not realize that Steve Gold had good 
intentions to clean up the tattoo shop's image (Tattooist Rubs Out Dirty Image). This 70- 
year-old building has survived the test of time, and has also become Broadway's unlikely 
diamond in the rough. 

Goldie's Tattoo is located at 1304 Broadway, in Rockford Illinois. It is very close 
to the famous and historical Toad Hall. Toad Hall sells old records, videos, and main 
other collectible items. The Goldie's shop is inside of a small building, as are most other 
tattoo shops. The front picture window is framed by mysterious blue neon lights. 
Bordering this window is very captivating "graffiti". The white wooden sign above the 
window is decorated with "GOLDIE'S" in vintage tattoo lettering. It also is decorated 

Mershon 2 

with various designs and flash art (art used for tattoos). Inside there are a few red stools 
that sparkle shimmering red like Dorothy's slippers. In front of these beautiful vintage 
stools are some mirrors. The old walls are wallpapered in many unique and interesting 
styles of flash art. The Goldie's building has seen the changes in the Broadway area 
within the last 23 years. "I've seen it go from good, to bad, to better." Bev Mason, owner 
of Toad Hall, comments on the changes of Broadway. Bev moved Toad Hall from across 
the street from Goldie's to their current location because of drugs and prostitution 
(Mason). "It went from a white collar Swedish neighborhood to a blue collar minority 
neighborhood." Bev describes the change. Bev also says that this change bothers some 
people, but it does not bother her (Mason). Goldie's has witnessed many changes in the 
Broadway area. All the while being a beautifully eclectic building of Broadway. 

There are specific rules that must be followed when getting a tattoo. Sometimes if 
these rules are not followed, the tattoo will not come out looking how it is supposed to. 
The first step in getting a tattoo is selecting whom to do it. Personal recommendations 
will usually help in this area. If a recommendation cannot be found, one must look at the 
artist's work through pictures that they have taken. All good artists take snapshots of their 

There are many different misconceptions about the tattoo industry. One of 
these concerns the tattoo artists and people that get tattoos. Older people tend to believe 
that tattoo artists and people that get tattoos are motorcycle riders or bad teenagers. While 
there are many motorcycle riders that have tattoos, there are also main other "normal" 
people that also have tattoos. This writer is one of those people. From this writer's o\\ n 

Mershon 3 

observations, he can say that tattoos are becoming more mainstream. People that get 
tattoos are not just bikers anymore. Also, tattoo artists are just that. They are artists. The 
only difference between them and other artists is that they put their art on people's bodies 
instead of canvas. There have been many misunderstandings about tattoo artists and 
people that get tattoos. 

Once an artist has been chosen, one must decide what tattoo to get. This 
writer has a tribal tattoo on his arm and a Chinese character on his right leg. He chose to 
get the tribal tattoo because he saw one that he liked in a magazine. He had always 
wanted a tattoo. He decided to get the Chinese character because it looked cool and it 
stood for strength. Tattoo prices vary depending on size, color usage, difficulty, and who 
does the tattoo. After the tattoo is selected, the artist makes a temporary tattoo of the 
outline. This helps the artist make a straight, good-looking tattoo. The artist then cleans 
the area of skin and places the temporary tattoo on the skin. Now the artist will start the 
outline of the tattoo. This writer speaks from first-hand experience when he says that this 
outline needle hurts the most. After the outline is finished, the shading and coloring is 
started. While the artist is doing this, he periodically cleans and sprays the skin to remove 
the blood. After the tattoo is finished, it is cleaned and bandaged. It is now the 
responsibility of the client to wash the tattoo twice daily for a week and apply A&amp; D 
ointment. In about two months after getting a tattoo, it is advisable to return to the tattoo 
shop for a touch up to make up for any fading. Most artists do not charge for this service. 
Tattoos fade with age and need a touch up about every 5-10 years. 

Mershon 4 

Bev Mason comments on getting a tattoo, "It might look O.K. when you're 21, 
but when you're 61 it might look weird." This tattoo process may be long, but it helps the 
chances of getting a good, quality tattoo ( ). 

This writer was always told as a kid that tattoo shops were bad and evil. Now that 
this writer has grown up and been in quite a few tattoo shops he can say that this is not 
true. There are many other people that share this belief. This writer assumes that many 
people have this belief because they have not actually been in a tattoo shop. Many times 
when one does not experience something first-hand, he/she actually has no idea what it is 
like. This could be considered being ignorant. Making decisions based on myths and 
prejudices is not right and should not be tolerated. One cannot go through life being 
ignorant and closed-minded. 

Yet another issue of misunderstanding is regarding the cleanliness of tattoo shops. 
While there has been concern over the shops in the past, this has changed drastically 
throughout the years. Many do not realize there has not been any confirmed case of 
anyone getting HIV from a tattoo in the U.S. ( ). Yet another 
statistic confirming their cleanliness is that one has a better chance of getting Hepatitis B 
from the dentist's office. The Center for Disease Control shows that there have been 
more infections of Hepatitis B from dentist's office than tattoo shops 
( ). All reusable items used in the tattoo shop must be 
autoclaved. Autoclaving kills all germs and bacteria on the equipment. The cleanliness of 
tattoo shops has definitely gotten better these past years. 

The final conflict over tattoos is that they are too permanent. While this statement 
is true, many people have good reason behind getting a tattoo. Some do it just to be cool. 

Mershon 5 

which probably would not be very good when they grow up and regret getting a tattoo. 
Others do it for decoration. It is almost like a permanent piece of jewelry to decorate 
one's body. For this writer, his tattoos hold personal meaning. The tribal armband on his 
arm stands for freedom, because he got it done on his 1 8 th birthday. The other tattoo of 
the Chinese symbol on his leg represents strength. He got this tattoo near the date of 
graduating from high school. While some may believe that tattoos are stupid and are too 
permanent, others think that their tattoos are very important to them. Tattoos could even 
be compared to an old photograph that reminds one of their lives at that time. Everyone 
has some sort of reason for getting a tattoo. 

Everyone has something that they have not experienced in their life, whether it be 
getting a tattoo, trying an ethnic food, or speaking a foreign language. In life, one must 
not be ignorant or closed-minded towards things which they know nothing about. One 
must try new things and experience different situations before passing judgment on them. 
This writer encourages the reader to try to think differently and open their mind. Maybe 
even visit Goldie's: Rockford's own Inkslinger's Haven. 

Josh Mershon 
English 101 

Works Cited 

Mason, Bev. Personal Interview. Toad Hall. 4 Nov. 2001 . 
McCleod USA , Rockford, IL Area. Yellow Pages. 2000-2001 
Register Star Metro, "Tattoist Rubs Out Dirty Image."1979. 
Rockford City Directory . 1935-1978. 
Tattoo Page, 

Goodwill Ferris Wheels 

______ _______ 

Fall Semester 2001 - Rock Valley College 

English Composition 1 

______ _______ 

English 101 Section NCE 

November 17 2001 

Goodwill Ffirris Wheels 

The building that is now Goodwill on Kishwaukee Street has a rich history important 
to Rockford's development. It used to be a progressive factory that changed 
manufacturing and then a Goodwill Industries Site, which helps the unfortunate get jobs 
and teaches them how to care for themselves. Many people suspect Goodwill has 
something to do with charity, but are not sure. What is so "good" about Goodwill 
Industries International? Though obsolete Polaroid cameras and factory-recalled toaster 
ovens are available at Goodwill, one thing not found is an explanation of its history. 
How did it get started? Who started it? How long has there been a Goodwill store on 
Kishwaukee Street? 

The Goodwill movement started around the turn of the century, when Edgar Helms 
collected discarded clothes, then financially poor employees sold them. The money 
raised went toward their wages. The Goodwill concept has always been to help people 
get jobs rather than just give them money. The reason is that people need the skills and 
self-respect that holding a job provides. In July 1936, George H. Angell arrived in 
Rockford to become the first executive officer says the booklet A Community of Good 

Manufacturer Swan Anderson once owned the building that is now Goodwill on 
Kishwaukee Street. In 1915, Swan and his brothers started Anderson Brothers-their own 
shop-taking whatever work they could get usually tedious jobs the other companies didn'1 
want to do, though no source found bv this writer savs w hat. 


In 1920, they erected a factory at 1907 Kishwaukee Street. Just a few years later, the 
company was responsible for inventing the Eskimo Pie making machine. Previously, 
each pie had to be hand-dipped and wrapped which made it hard to keep with public 
demands. The Eskimo Pie Company was phasing out the Eskimo pie and was going 
bankrupt. Anderson's patent attorney told him he should make a machine to assemble 
the treats more quickly. Anderson hired a guy to draw up the plans. Soon the product 
was a success. The company outgrew its location in 1 964. Meanwhile, Goodwill 
Industries outgrew its location at 631 Cedar Street. Goodwill Industries bought the 
Kishwaukee Street building for $250,000. Goodwill board members pledges backed the 
loan. Goodwill wanted to employ twice as many disadvantaged people as before. 
Goodwill chose the location because its single floor design would make it more 
accessible for the handicapped. 

As for Anderson Brothers manufacturing, Swan gradually passed the business onto his 
son, Ralph. A second-generation employee of Anderson Brothers manufacturing, 
Randall Gray, told this gossipy story: 

"My dad told me that Ralph's boy John used to work for his dad as a teenager. Ralph 
wanted him to learn a job in the factory. John did not really want to work. Anyway, 
John was being shown how to use the C and C machine. However, no matter how he 
tried he just could not get it right. It bruised his ego that he could not &lt;.\o w hat a common 
laborer could and got mad. John said, Til be right back' and left the area. 1 le returned a 
few minutes later wearing a suit and told the workers,' you work for me. 1 o\\ n you."' 
John inherited the business when his dad died in L955. He toyed with it for a tew years, 
quickly lost interest and sold the business. Anderson Brothers Manufacturing remains a 


successful business and still manufactures the Eskimo pie machine accourding to Randall 

How does one get to Goodwill and what does it look like from the outside? Begin at 
the Clock Tower Resort that is located on the corner of State Street and Lyford Road. 
This is a familiar Rockford landmark and the start of our journey because it is located 
directly off Interstate Ninety. When traveling from 1-90 take an immediate right at State 
Street. At the first light, turn left onto Bell School Road. Make a right turn onto 
Newburg, now heading west. Continuing on Newburg the name of the street will change 
to Broadway, just continue until it dead ends into Kishwaukee Street. Make a left and 
look for 18 th Avenue, because on the corner of 18 th Avenue and Kishwaukee Street is 
Goodwill industries of Rockford. 

The first thing noticed at this intersection is a brownish brick building on the right. 
This is Goodwill. There is also a medium color blue carport overhang on the north side. 
Turning right, seven "poison cherry" trees line the single stalls-to-the-wall style parking 
lot. Seven six-pane windows line the north side. Six garage doors precede three don't- 
drive-through-the-glass-door concrete stumps guarding the northwest comer. A four- foot 
steel overhang suspended by cable juts out over the door. Two teams of four poles 
surround a cylindrical post that originally supported a smaller overhang. 

Looking closer toward the carport side, its massive overhang strings out like the 
Golden Gate Bridge. It also has a half a dozen "guard stumps" protecting an all glass 
area, which includes "in" and "out" doors plus the bay area. Remodel \\ oik is evident 
because the bricks surrounding the glass (ace are more tight ly together and are lighter in 


On the corner of Kishwaukee Street and 1 8 th Ave, two apple trees overtake a hideous 
metallic modern art sculpture. Nonetheless, three spot lamps are poised to shine at night. 
Sixteen picture windows line the east wall, each with its own matching medium blue 
polyester overhang. On this side, there is a doublewide sidewalk, half old and half new 
from apparent road construction. The landscaping includes six fern trees and dense 
suburban-type landscaping hugging the east wall and embracing each tree. The scene is 
complete with rainwater filled birdbath near the sidewalk and a "studio zoom" neon sign 
in the front window. The sounds are of rush hour traffic and the smells freshly cut 
shrubs. Shockingly, there is no sign that says Goodwill. 

If one drives to 1907 Kishwaukee Street and tries to find some cool old jeans, one will 
not find any. The same is true if looking for a flannel shirt. Even a printed-T will be 
beyond grasp. Why is this? Half of the Goodwill store that carried clothes has moved to 
a new, mostly clothing-only store on East State Street. Not to worry, one can still find a 
fifty-gallon drum filled with golf clubs and another drum with tennis rackets. However, 
why did they move? It has something to do with something called The Abilities Center 
that features renovated architecture and occupies the once "clothing only" side of 

What is The Abilities Center? It is not a gym. This writer had an opportunity to tour 
the Abilities Center and see its renovations. Lighter colored groups of bricks arc proof of 
renovation. These bricks surround supports for the new overhang as well as the new glass 
face. The glass face includes a bay and double in and double out doors. This writer 
remembers when it was all brick with one pair of doors protected by a small limp 

_______- 5 

overhang. This area used to be the clothing store's half of Goodwill, but now divides to 
provide another floor. 

Inside, the view is very different. Instead of seeing one big room, a tall ceiling and 
thousands of used articles of clothing, now partitions form new rooms, hallways and an 
upstairs. Straight ahead is the hallway. Looking to the left through a window is a room 
with a tall ceiling, rows of computers and a few musical instruments. Lodged between 
the room and the hallway is a receptionist's booth complete with receptionist. A brief 
look upstairs show a typical office-building layout. 

Joan Farris is the current program director at Goodwill. She gives this writer a tour of 
the centers' recording studio. Why is there a recording studio at Goodwill? Because 
someone thought it would be a good idea. Joan leads this writer through the big room on 
the left and then a door in the corner. This is the isolation booth. It is as big as the 
bathroom in the basement of the RVC Tech Center. Acoustic foam cakes the walls. A 
smaller door leads into a smaller room. This is the control room. It is loaded with 
expensive, but not choice, audio equipment, maybe $20,000 worth. The gear is all brand 
new, high tech and made of plastic. 

The studio is a tool to rehabilitate people. Rehabilitation involves having one's song 
(or cover of a song) recorded. This might include singing, playing guitar, pressing 
buttons on a $1400 drum machine or doing anything that makes noise. A sound engineer 
offers his free services a few days a week, in exchange for use of the studio at night for 
which he charges his clients $30 an hour. After Goodwill's hopefuls record their songs, 
they can help mix tracks using a computer program named Cakewalk. Finally, the extra 


ambitious can place a sample of their song on the Goodwill web site. To date, one person 
has made it that far according to this writer's interview with Joan Farris. 

Later, in the break room, Joan smokes a cigarette and continues to explain the 

". . .Yeah, I play guitar a little. My band the Farris Wheels plays women's festivals. I'm 
not very good, but we can make $400 in a half hour. 

In addition, when asked about recording equipment, she says, "I don't know anything 
about recording. Greg is great; he's teaching me a little. I can't hold still long enough to 
read a manual. . .1 get good deals on equipment from this catalog. When you call them on 
the phone, prices are way lower [retail] than it says in the catalog [list]. We've got a lot 
more stuff coming, I just placed a $2,300 order yesterday!" 

Goodwill has changed. Goodwill owns microphones. Nevertheless, Goodwill 
provides valuable employment programs other than recording, such as the machine 
operator training provided in-house. Cashiers at the Goodwill store are program 
recipients. Yes, Goodwill does a good work. What is most important to consumers 
though is that one can still buy golf clubs, wooden skies, electric skillets and S-track 
tapes at 1907 Kishwaukee Street. 

Works Cited 

_______, ______. This writer and long time Goodwill shopper. October 2001 . 
Gray, Randall. Personal Interview. October 2001. 

Smith, Joan. Director of the Abilities program. Personal Interview. September 2001 
Lundin, Jon. A Community Of Goodwill. Pamphlet. No date. Pages 3-13. 
"Old Anderson Bros. Factory Sold" Rockford Register Star 9-1 3-64. 
"S.F. Anderson, Wife Honored" Rockford Register Star 10-26-50. 
"Swan Anderson, Industrialist, Dies" Rockford Register Star 3-26-63. 


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Harlem Tried and True 

Tiffany Cady 

Fall Semester-Rock Valley College 

English Composition I 

Tiffany Cady 
20 November 2001 
English 101 DT2 
S. Fisher 

Harlem Tried and True 

In the early 1900s, the Machesney Park-Loves Park area was growing rapidly. 
The Kenosha-Rockford Railroad brought people from all over to settle in this area. 
The need for more space to educate all of the kids was great. The towns already had 
five smaller schools, but they were too far away from most of the areas where people 
were settling. They needed one big school in the middle of the towns. 

That's when O. J. Kern, Winnebago County Superintendent of Schools, came 
up with the wonderful idea. He thought that if they could consolidate the four small 
schools, that were quickly becoming inadequate, into one large school district they 
could serve all the kids in the area. So, on March 12, 1910, Hugh Ferguson, O. H. 
Conklin, J. C. Snow and J. J. Miller started seeking signatures for the petitions to 
approve the new consolidated school district of Free Soil, Union, Bruner, and 
Lovejoy school districts. Most of the community voted. On April 10, 1910 the votes 
were counted. With a count of 64 in favor and 16 against, the bonds received for the 
new district totaled $18,000 (Dedication to Education). 

The plans were put into action and the beautiful new school was finished in 
March of 1911. It was built at the old Free Soil School site on Harlem Road and 
North Second Street because they could use the old school as a barn for the horses 
that the kids either rode or drove to school. The charming new building had four 
rooms on the first floor, a raised basement with science and domestic science rooms, 
a manual training classroom, two furnace and fuel rooms, two restrooms and an attic 

that was the perfect size for a gymnasium. The district also purchased additional 
acreage to put in a school garden, a baseball diamond, a 120-yard straight track, and 
an oval track. The first school was only going to be two rooms, but Mr. Conklin 
thought that it would become inadequate in a few years, so they added the other two 
rooms to the plans. By March fifth, students were already occupying it (Dedication to 

The new Harlem Consolidated School District 122 was dedicated on April 26, 
1911 to the residents of the surrounding communities. They then decided that they 
did not need the old Union, Bruner, and Lovejoy schools so they closed them. 
Enrollment in the first year topped 85 students, 19 at high school levels and 66 in the 
lower grades. Soon, organizing school activities became a must. An athletic 
association was formed and by the spring, two track teams, a baseball team, and a 
girl's basketball team were formed. Plans for a school band followed shortly. Clifford 
C. Burns, the superintendent at the time, had his hands full at the time with all the 
activities going on. So the first school board for the new district consisted of A. J. 
Lovejoy, Junius Snow, and O. H. Conklin. Helen N. Conklin, William Snow, and 
Bessie McFarlane got the honor of being the first graduating class of 1914 
(Dedication to Education). 

The first Harlem Consolidated School District building was a great start 
towards a wonderful district, but it would not be big enough in the long run. 
Eventually the school district spread and grew. Today, the high school is located on 
North Alpine Road. The differences between the fust school and the high school now 
are astonishing. 

The size of the building is probably the most noticeable aspect. The first one 
had only four rooms, an attic, and a basement. The newest building covers 368,000 
square feet of land and has dozens of rooms, most with internet access, state-of-the- 
art science labs equipped with fiber optic cables, 19 networked computer labs, an 
athletic complex with three full-size basketball courts, five volleyball courts, a 
cardiovascular and strength training center, and pool facilities. It also includes an 
instructional media center, contemporary career and guidance center, and a food- 
court-style cafeteria. The brand new science facilities are 30 feet by 50 feet, and cover 
1500 square feet of space alone. The first school did not have the means to get all of 
that either (HHS Business Division). 

The newest school also serves many more students each year than the old one 
partially because not as many people were settled in the area at that time. Last year 
the high school served about 2000 students alone. "I remember when the area 
between Forest Hills and Alpine, where Tiffany Cady lives, was all farmland," Mrs. 
Cuyler recalled. "Then people moved into the surrounding area and Harlem High 
School was the closest so they registered their kids there" (Cuyler Interview). With all 
the people moving into the area from Rockford, they had no choice but to build a 
bigger school. The old one was too small and the area surrounding the school denied 
the ability to expand further. So they built another new one with a lot of hard work 
and a little money. 

Since they built this big beautiful new school, they needed more teachers to 
teach all those kids. All the teachers at the old Harlem High School moved to the big 
one or went off to teach at other schools. In order to teach at either school, tliev had 

to have university degrees and they still do. Many of the newer teachers have more 
specialized degrees. The teachers with specialized degrees also started classes like 
accounting, auto mechanics, drafting, drama, foreign languages, and many others to 
lure more students to fill the huge building. Special education instructors are more 
prevalent now than back in the 1920s when the old Harlem High existed. The old 
school never had all the fancy desks and chairs. They never saw power wheelchairs 
being escorted by aids. 

The new building also inspired the district to switch to an eight-year grade 
school and a four-year high school program from a six-year grade school, three-year 
junior high school, and three-year high school program. There are now 10 buildings 
in the Harlem School District 122 covering 130 acres and about 1 . 1 million square 
feet of building space, serving approximately 6200 students in the Loves Park and 
Machesney Park areas (HHS Science Division). This compares very little to the old 
school district. 

Technological advancements and changes have also had a major impact on 
the schools. Most of the kids in the old Harlem High never even heard of a computer 
let alone one in a classroom. Today the kids in the Harlem High on N. Alpine have 
computers in at least one class a day. It went from computers just being an idea to 
classrooms having enough computers for everyone in the class. This is a major 
difference that occurred within 75 years. 

The sports programs also led to the development of communication and the 
school newspaper. The school paper at the time, The Pepper, published the spotting 
events and other activities for the rest of the school to see. Both the old school and 

the newest one have had great sports programs. Many people supported the programs 
with either the fans club or the sports association organized at the school. The 
program started very small, then grew with each passing year. Now there are dozens 
of athletic programs that the students can participate in. Each year the athletes get 
better and better, but still put academics first. In order to participate in any sports, the 
athletes have to maintain at least a 3.0 grade point average. 

Harlem High School's bowling program has had some astonishing results over 
the past few years because of its participants like Sandi Cope. "I like to bowl. I have 
bowled for school since seventh grade. Schoolwork comes first though. If I don't get 
the grades then I can't bowl for school. That makes me try haider because I love 
bowling in high school. It is so much fun. You learn great skills like teamwork and 
how to get along with people you don't necessarily like," Sandi Cope recalls (Cope). 
There is no one profound sport or athlete that leads the school in championships. The 
many students that have done an extraordinary job in a particular sport have their 
name, picture and accomplishments put on banners that are then hung in the gym for 
all to see. All the trophies that any sport wins are put in the trophy cases that line the 
halls in the newest school. 

O. J. Kern started something very profound when he decided that the schools 
needed to be consolidated. The Harlem High on North Alpine Road would have 
never been formed without this mans idea. Luckily, he seen the need to join all the 
schools to create the district that has served a great number of students and will 
continue to do so in the future. If only he could have seen all he has done. 

Works Cited 
Cope, Sandi. Personal Interview, November 12, 2001 
Cuyler, Beth, Personal Interview, September 24, 2001. 
Fisher, Jerry, October 3, 2001, online, America Online, 
Harlem High School Alumni Directory 1992 , Bernard C. Harris Publishing, 

Copywrite 1993, White Plains, New York. 
Harlem High School, Science Division, October 3, 2001, online, America Online, 
Dedication To Education, 1910-1985 , Harlem School District 122. Date Unknown. 
A History: Looking Back at Harlem Schools , 1969-2001 . Author Unknown 
Harlem High School, Business Division, October 3, 2001. Online, America Online 
Harlem High School, Physical Education Division, October 3, 2001. Online, 
America Online. http.V/ 
Mitchell, Lori, Personal Interview, September 24, 2001. 


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The Victorian Beauty Salon and Day Spa 

Tina Myres 
English 101 
5 Dec 2001 
Scott Fisher 

Myres 1 

Tina Myres 
English 101 
24 Nov 2001 

The Victorian Beauty Salon and Day Spa 

In downtown Rockford, a unique Victorian neighborhood is often passed by 
unnoticed. Located in this neighborhood is a Victorian house, 135 Longwood Street. This 
older house has been a home and a place of businesses to many Rockford residents. 

As one is headed west on East State Street, before the bridge, there is a street 
called Longwood. Turning right onto Longwood, there is a faded red sign on the roof of 
the first house on the right entitled, "Welcome to Victorian Village." 

It may seem as though one steps back in time forty years entering this very 
peaceful neighborhood filled with Victorian houses, Victorian five-bulb street lights. 
various American flags, park benches, oak and maple tress scattered throughout. The 
relaxing atmosphere this sight brings makes one want to sit down on park benches and 
forget about one's worries. This neighborhood would have never been created if not for 
the Swedish. 

In 1852, the first railroad was built in Rockford (Nelson p9-15). A few weeks 
later, many Swedish immigrants began to pour into Rockford. The Rev. Enland Carillon 
from Chicago sent many to Rockford. He told them to, " Take the train till the tracks 
stop." (Nelson p9-15). The tracks stopped at Kiswaukee Street on the east side of the 
Rock River. Many of the Swedish built homes and firmly established the east side area. 
(Nelson p 9-15). 

Myres 2 

Several Swedish formed their own companies in the 1 870s to 1 880s. By 1 890, 
they controlled three national banks and occupied the mayor and chief police positions. 
(Lundin p67). They had more than fifty of the largest industries in Rockford. (Ludin p 
67) "The Swedish had a 3-mile commercial corridor that ran from East State Street to 7 l 
street to Broadway" (Ludin p67). By the 1930's the Swedish made up 40% of the 
population in Rockford. (Ludin p67). Since the Swedish primarily established the east 
side of the Rock River, they built many of the homes by East State Street. All of the 
homes were built simply and large to house other Swedish immigrants that came into 
Rockford. Hardwood floors and staircases, all found in these homes are definite signs of 
Swedish craftsmanship. 

All of these homes at one point were lived in by families, and then made into 
apartments. In the late 1970's early 1980's the homes were zoned C-3 commercial and 
could now be used as businesses. That birthed the Victorian Village (Newton 1 E). 

The Victorian Village is a group of old restored houses built in the late 1800s 
early 1900s that opened unique shops in them. The Victorian Village Association headed 
by Sue Custer developed the idea (Newton IE). The Association wanted to open a unique 
village of shops and keep the Victorian atmosphere. The group of people restored the old 
houses and made them available to be rented out. All the shops in the Village were 
specialty stores having uniqueness to them. There were various types of stores like candy 
stores, antique shops, a woman who designed and made pillows, and several restaurants 
(Newton IE). 

Myres 3 

Sheryl Wilson recalls, " I went there when they first opened up. All those granny 
shops. Like this one lady who made dolls. She sold dolls and doll parts. Then, 1 found the 
candy shops. Once a week I'd get their homemade macaroons. Oh, They were so good." 

The Christmas season in the Victorian Village attracted many people. The whole 
village was decorated with poinsettias, wreaths, and other decorations. Each shop had a 
Victorian, country, or traditional theme. The shop owners dressed in costumes for their 
particular era and had candy and refreshments for visitors ("Merry Christmas" 1 E). 
Also, Santa Clause marched in a parade with children and passed out candy. (Wilson 
Interview). The celebration drew many tourists, especially from Chicago. The Village 
was now becoming more popular and drawing more attention. At one time there were 65 
shops in the village, but many businesses moved out because of lack of parking and 
business expansion (NelsonlE). The house at 135 Longwood Street was once apart of 
that village. 

Just a few houses to the right, after turning onto Longwood Street, there is a white 
two-story house with hunter green shutters. Currently, a wooden sign with a woman's 
face, with the initials H.M. illustrated as her hair, is right in front of the house with the 
address 135 inscribed into it. Parking is available on the side of the house, across the 
street, or in the parking lot behind the house. 

This house is a tall Victorian -style house with many windows. The white paint 
looks fresh. The exterior has a bumpy texture to it, almost like sand was mixed into the 

Pink and purple flowers, as well as two park benches, decorate the cement 
walkway. Two maple trees reaching to the top of the house are in the front yard. Three 

Myres 4 

feet evergreen bushes form a perfect square frame around the house. 

The side of the house has many windows indicating a basement, main floor and 
upstairs. Only a few feet of space separate the side of the house from the neighboring 
Victorian houses. 

In the back of the house there are many windows and a blacktopped parking lot 
that holds six cars on the side of the house there is a small patch of grass and a small 
cement divider that a joins 9 th Street which leads to the Whitman St. Bridge. 

In front of the building to the left East State Street traffic is booming, but the 
peacefulness of the neighborhood seems to block out all of the noise of the traffic. 

When this house was first built in 1902, the Johnson family originally owned it. 
(1902). Since 1905 to 1961, various families or couples have lived in this house, but many 
only stayed for only a year. Harry Sales, a machinist, and his wife Carla were the only 
tenants to stay over a year, 1961-1966(RKFD City Directory). For two years it was 
vacant then numerous other tenets lived in the house from 1968 to 1981, moving in and 
out only staying for a year or less. The neighborhood of N. 9 th St, 6 th St, and Longwood 
Street was beginning to be formed into the Victorian Village in 1977 (NwetonlE). In 
1983, this house was renovated into five apartments (1987RKFD City Directory). They 
stayed apartments until 1987, until Gene Gurkee began buying the houses one by one on 
N. Longwood Street. She was going to tear it all down and build a commercial strip, but 
decided to preserve the houses and join the Victorian theme that was attracting main 
people (Merry Christmas). 

This house was rented to different shops every year from 19SS until 1993. The 
house was named, "Victorian View House" and had stores on its Lower and upper levels. 

Myres 5 

The first four stores to be rented in the house were Barbara's Vintage Boutique, that sold 
vintage clothing; the Coconut Grove Wicker Co, that sold oriental toys and wicker; 
Simply Design, a wreath and gift shop, and Chic. Interiors, an interior decorator. 
Additional shops that sold collectable coins and antiques, gifts, candy, and others rented 
the shops until 1991. Satin and Lace and Naturally Yours were the last two stores to rent 
the house in 1998 (RKFD City Directory). 

Nevertheless, this house was still zoned as commercial. Ironically a Swedish 
woman, Claurise Hauser, decided to rent the house from Gordan Realtors. She used the 
house to open her dream salon and day spa, "High Maintenance" in March of 2001 . This 
spa Hauser states, " is run by women and made for women," offering nail and hair care, 
pedicures, facials, deep tissue body massages, reflexology, and body wraps. Tina Myres 
stated, "I go there for their hair color choices. Here professional talented women are 
artists with their hair color and can creatively make my hair color beautiful. She seems to 
always get the rights burgundy -red tint I'm looking for. I go there for all my beauty 
needs and products." 

Claurise uses every room in this house for her salon. Every service has its 
specific room. The walls on the main floor are painted bright red orange and decorated 
with local artists' paintings. Golden cherubs statues and pictures peacefully decorate the 
rooms of the house. The only major change to the inside was the installation o( large 
sinks for washing hair and she painted the bright white walls. " All the walls were bright 
white. They looked very sanitized. I was told a doctor used to practice out of here a year 
ago. The only thing we had to do was paint the white walls and install theses lager sinks." 

Myres 6 

The owner of High Maintenance chose this particular house because of the 
location and style. Hauser stated, " The house is elegant Victorian style with pretty 
woodwork being the highlight. I always wanted the business to be in an elegant Victorian 
house. The neighborhood has similar houses and the atmosphere of being in that era of 
time." She is very content in her decision of this house and plans to stay there. 

If you ever decide to visit inside High Maintenance beauty salon and day spa, you 
will find it an enjoyable experience. You are welcomed by a group of beautiful friendly 
women who are ready to pamper you and make you beautiful. 

This old Victorian house has had a lot of uses since its construction in 1902. This 
house was once a home to many, then a part of the once famous Victorian Village, and is 
now the home to a unique salon and day spa, High Maintenance. It continues to be an 
important part of Rockford history. 

Works Cited 

Hauser, Claurise. Personal Interview. 7 Nov 2001 . 

Lundin, John W. Rockford an Illustrated History : United States of America: 

American Historical Press. 1996.p67 
"Merry Christmas" Rockford Register Star 13 Nov 1987, NE Rockford, 

Belvedere, Loves Park ed. 1 E 
Myres, Tina. Personal interview. 1 Nov 2001. 
Nelson, Herman. Sinnissippi Saga " Where they First Settled." Mendota, 

Illinois: Wayside Press. 1968. P 9-15 
Newton, Steve. "Association Hires Director For Market Shopping Area." 

Rockford Register Star 12 Oct 1989, NE Rockford, Belvedere, Loves 

Parked. IE. 
Rockford City Directory, Local History Room, RKFD Public Library 



Wilson, Sheryl. Personal Interview. 7 Nov 2001. 

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Travelling Back In Time, The Illinois Railway Museum 

Russell D. Gilbert 

Fall Semester - Rock Valley College 

English Composition I 



Gilbert. 2 

Travelling Back In Time 

The Illinois Railway Museum (IRM) has grown and matured over the years and is 
now a very developed railway museum. It started out as a simple collection and has 
grown to an internationally-known railroad museum. Many things have changed since 
its beginning in a foundry lot in North Chicago. IRM has undergone many improvements 
that add to a unique and unforgettable visit to the museum. 

In 1941 the Indiana Railroad (IR) could no longer survive and went up for sale. 
This was the beginning of what was to be the Illinois Railway Museum. However, at the 
time the IR went out of business, it had the most technologically advanced equipment an 
interurban railroad could own. Because of this, the idea for a museum was out of the 
question because of the cost of buying one of the cars. The car of interest was Indiana 
Railroad Number 65, a high-speed and lightweight electric interurban rail car. Instead of 
retiring in 1941, the 65 was purchased by the Cedar Rapids and Iowa City, a small 
electric line in Iowa. The museum members had a key role in persuading the CR &amp; IC to 
buy Number 65. The idea was to put the car someplace until it was possible for the group 
to purchase Number 65. Of course another obstacle fell in the path of the group's idea 
when Pearl Harbor was attacked six months later. Because of the impending war. gas 
rations were put in effect and Number 65 became the primary service unit during World 
War Two (History of IRM). 

Once again Number 65 could have been homeless when the CR&amp;C1 abandoned 
passenger service in 1953. Luckily for Number 65. the rail enthusiast group had not 

Gilbert, 3 

forgotten about her and decided it was time to bring her to North Chicago. Because this 
would be a very involved and costly endeavour, the group often people decided to create 
the Illinois Electric Railway Museum. The IERM was a not-for-profit educational 
institution. Frank J. Sherwin was president of the Chicago Hardware Foundry and also a 
rail enthusiast. He had collected several interurban cars already and had room for the 
newly born museum to store Number 65. The location for the museum was on the south 
lot of the foundry, located near the North Shore Line's yard and the North Chicago 
Junction interurban stop. A couple years later, two pieces of equipment were acquired by 
the museum. Then the next year more equipment was arriving. At this point in time, no 
one had any idea what was in store for the museum, but everyone knew a permanent 
home was needed (Husfeldt 2). 

Indian Railroad #65. Photo bv James Kolanowski IW8. 

Gilbert, 4 

The need for the acquisition of a large piece of property became even more 
obvious when the stagnant equipment began to deteriorate rapidly while unprotected 
from the harsh winters. Property for a barn and operating space was now the mission of 
the museum's most active members. Several sites were considered and were eventually 
narrowed down to four, three of which already had track in place. Always on the minds 
of the museum's members was eventually operating the equipment. Batavia, Illinois had 
a section of property along the abandoned right-of-way of the Chicago, Aurora, and Elgin 
interurban. The rails were still in place at this site. Another site was in the village of 
East Troy, Wisconsin. This was the East Troy Railroad and still had tracks and operating 
overhead wire. East Troy is now home to the East Troy Electric Railway Museum. The 
third choice was the Joliet quarry trackage of the Material Service Corporation, which 
also had rail in place. The final piece of property was in Union, Illinois and was the 
abandoned right of way of the Elgin and Belvidere Railroad. Most of the grade was still 
in tact, but there was no ballast or rails. Finally, because of financial reasons and time, 
the museum had to decide on Union as the new home for the museum (Husfeldt 6). 

The Union site became the official plan in 1963 when the Union Site 
Development Committee was formed to organize the move. The site is about 1 7 miles 
northwest of Elgin and north of Highway 20 and the Northwest Toll Road. The Union 
site is also ideal because it is easily accessible from Chicago and Rockford. The roadbed 
was in complete disrepair because it was abandoned in the early 1930's. Most of the 
grade remained with some trees in the middle, but that was not a concern. Even though 
the property had been purchased, IRM's new home was not final. The board of trustees 
did not want to purchase land adjacent to the right-of-way until all of the other potential 


Gilbert, 5 

sights were completely investigated. Soon the trustees decided it was time to forget 
about the other sites and move to Union. Part of the reason for this action was to meet 
the promised date of June 1 st ' 1964 to vacate the south yard of the Chicago Hardware 
Foundry. Now a very large task was ahead; the actual relocation of the museum's 
equipment (Husfeldt 8). 

Preparation in Union included grading the land and laying track. In North 
Chicago preparation of the equipment was necessary to move it by truck and rail. 
Overall, the move meant lots of hard work on behalf of the members. After the train of 
historic cars had left North Chicago, all of the rail and ties were pulled up and moved to 
Union. Three thousand feet of track had to be laid before the equipment arrived a week 
later at Union. Before all of the equipment arrived at Union, the museum's members 
spent five months working as hard as they could to make this possible. The members did 
everything from grading to driving spikes into the ties. At 10:30 p.m. on August 23. 
1964, the museum arrived at its new home in Union (Husfeldt 8). 

IRM started out as an electric traction museum and was called The Illinois 
Electric Railway Museum. The word "electric" was eventually dropped from the name, 
and IRM opened its doors to any type of historically significant railroad equipment. Jim 
Johnson, president of the museum for several years and a very active member for many 
years, stated, "The main purpose of the Illinois Railway Museum is. of course, historic 
preservation of railroad equipment" (Jarrett). In October of 1967. IRM operated its first 
public steam trip. The museum's first steam locomotive. Shay Number 5. pulled three 
cars filled with a 150 people, eager to experience the past. 

Gilbert, 6 

Steam locomotive Frisco 1630 seen from the cab of BN 5383 U30C 
a diesel locomotive from the mid 60's. Photo by Doug Gilbert. 

IRM received one of its more famous pieces in November of 1 968. the Chicago. 
Burlington, and Quincy's Nebraska Zephyr. The Zephyr trainset is an articulated, semi- 
permanently coupled, streamlined trainset built in 1936 for the daily Twin Cities trains 
that traversed the Burlington's route to Minnesota. There were two trainsets for this 
route, and they were called the "Twin Zephyrs." The train's individual cars were named 
after Greek Gods and Goddesses. The Train of the Goddesses is preserved at IRM. The 
matching trainset, The Train of the Gods, is rumoured to be owned by a Middle East 
millionaire who purchased the Zephyr in the 1 960s. The Zephyr was last assigned to a 
Chicago-Omaha route, hence the name Nebraska Zephyr. IRM's Zephyr is pulled by the 
one remaining E5 locomotive, the Silver Pilot. This one-of-a kind locomotive was built 
in 1940 at General Motor's Electro-Motive Division in LaGrange, Illinois (Gilbert. R), 


the Nebraska Zephyr heads fast down the 
main line through Johnson Siding. 
Photo bv James Kolanowski. l l '°S 

Gilbert, 7 

A very rare situation exists at IRM; all of the workers are volunteers. Everyone 
from the steam shop machinist to the road foreman volunteers his or her time to work at 
IRM. Volunteers usually start out by working on the restoration of equipment and 
eventually begin operating equipment also. The museum takes anyone who is willing to 
put whatever skills they have to use. The museum also prides itself in the amount of 
training it provides volunteers. Operating personnel go through much of the same 
training and tests as they would if they went to work for the Union Pacific. New 
operating department volunteers must work fifty hours as train crewmen before they enter 
the operating training courses. This procedure ensures the highest level of 
professionalism and safety. However, the museum has been forced to pay several people 
to operate the gift shops and concession stand. 

The Illinois Railway Museum is a "museum in motion" and operates many 
different types and pieces of railroad equipment. The operation is not strictly operating 
the equipment along a piece of track; it is a trip back in time. "Among the things that 
IRM practices is to designate sections of its railroad as typical of various types of 
railroads in the country," states Jim Johnson (Jarrett). Mr. Johnson is also very proud of 
the museum's operating signal system. IRM is the only museum to be completely 
controlled by a Centralized Traffic Control signal system. Even the signal and relays 
themselves are perfect restorations of original equipment (Jarrett). 

IRM tries to create an atmosphere that makes people feel they are in the past. 
Nick Kallas is a long time member of IRM and former president of the museum. He 
states, "Many of the things we do here arc not just strictly trains, but we're trying to put it 
into a sociological context." (Jarrett) Mr. Kallas is referring to one of many historical!) 

Gilbert. 8 

accurate buildings. IRM is so good at sending people to the past that several movies have 
filmed scenes at the museums. The movie A League of Their Own used the museum* s 
main depot, the Nebraska Zephyr, a steam locomotive, and the depot's platform to create 
a very vivid recollection of the past. Even if a movie did not take place in the past. IRM 
has been able to accomplish the filmmakers' needs. Groundhog Day used the museum's 
tracks and locomotive for a short scene in the movie. 

The Marengo Depot was the first structure on the property and arrived in 1 967 
and has now become the centrepiece of the museum. This depot was originally located in 
Marengo, Illinois, along the Chicago and North Western Railroad's track to Freeport 
(Husfeldt 15). 

IRM's depot, originally from Marengo. 
Photo by James Kolanowski. 1995. 

In 1978 a very notable structure arrived at IRM. This was the 50 ,h Avenue Rapid 
Transit station and is now a main focal point of the museum. Besides looking very 
original, the station is used on occasion to board some of the museum's vast collection of 
CTA cars and other similar equipment. Besides historical structures, the museum has 
eight modern barns on the property to store equipment that has been restored or that is 
very sensitive to the elements. IRM continues to grow and is always searching for 
equipment and structures (Husfeldt 49). 

Gilbert, 9 

In the early years IRM had to go deep into debt to become an operating museum. 
IRM issued $45,000 worth of interest-bearing bonds that were redeemable in 1974 
(Husfeldt 19). Unfortunately, the museum had to scrap several pieces of equipment to 
fund the move to Union. IRM also had to pay $26,000 for the initial property in Union 
(Husfeldt 19). All of this debt made it necessary for the museum to make money early in 
its operation. Floods have also plagued the museum. Several floods have hit the 
museum, causing various amounts of damage to structures and equipment. Despite the 
floods and financial situation, IRM survived the early years and has continued to survive 
for over 50 years. 

IRM has many special events throughout the operating seasons. A very popular 
event is Vintage Transportation Day. This event includes operating trolley buses and 
allowing people to bring vintage cars into the museum and display them. People who 
drive vintage vehicles receive free admission to the museum for the day. IRM hopes that 
these people will return again after a memorable experience. Another extremely popular 
event is the visit of Thomas the Tank Engine. This diesel mock-up of Thomas visits the 
museum once a year and attracts many people with children. This past year Thomas the 
Tank Engine attracted over 15,000 people in one weekend (Johnson 6). 

Thomas the take engine 
stopped on the west leg 
of the wye. Photo by 
Greg Heier. 

Gilbert, 10 

Another interesting special event happens almost every weekend for a few individuals. 
IRM runs a program called "Take the Throttle", which allows the public the chance to 
run a train. For a donation of $150 to $200, an individual can choose to operate a steam 
locomotive, diesel, or electric -powered train. Russell Gilbert recalls his experience with 
the "Take the Throttle" program. 

For my 1 8 th birthday I decided it would be fun to run a train. My mom made 
arrangements several months in advance, and on September 9 I started out to IRM 
bright and early to pick which diesel I wanted to operate. After that I spent most 
of the day riding with the actual engineer for public trips that day. Around 3 p.m. 
the rest of my family showed up, and we waited for the last public trip that I 
would "qualify" on. This trip is when the engineer operates the train but gives the 
visitor detailed instructions about operating the train, many of which I was well 
aware. After the last trip it was my turn to run the two-engine, five-car train out 
on the main line. This was a very exciting day, and I hope experience it again 

This easy and frequent program helps IRM raise money needed to restore equipment 
cosmetically and mechanically. 

Motra F7 number 308 was the 
locomotive used fbl Russell 
Gilbert's "Take the Throttle" 
session. Photo b\ Jim Jones 2000. 

Gilbert, 1 1 

There are many transportation museums in the United States. However, few can 
match the Illinois Railway Museum's vast collection of operating and non-operating 
trains, trolleys, and electric buses. IRM is presently the largest, operating railroad 
museum in the world. It is an excellent way for children to see into the past. It is also a 
great way for adults to remember their childhood and the way things were before modern 
technology dominated the world. 



Works Cited 
Gilbert, Douglass. "Frisco 1630" Photo. 1996. 
Gilbert, Russell. Personal Interview. November 2001. 
Heier, Greg. 'Thomas the Tank Engine" Photo. Unknown year. 
Husfeldt, Lee. "Centennial Issue." Rail and Wire. Issue 100, December 1980. 2-55. 
History of IRM - A Museum in Motion. March 1998. Illinois Railway Museum. 9 

October 2001. . 
Jarrett, Leslie J. (Producer). (1992). Illinois Railway Museum |videotape|. Indianapolis, 

IN: Railway Productions. 
Johnson, Jim. Rail and Wire. Issue 172, July 1998. 6. 
Jones, Jim. "Metra F7 #308" Photo. 2000 
Kolanowski, James. "Indian Railroad #65" Photo 1998 
Kolanowski, James. "Nebraska Zephyr" Photo. 1998 
Kolanowski, James. "Marengo Depot at IRM" Photo. 1995 
Schmidt, Peter. Rail and Wire. Issue 182, March/April 2000. 3-14. 

Jefferson High School: The School Of Change 

Andrea Robins 

Fall Semester 2001 -Rock Valley College 

English Composition I 

Andrea Robins 
English 101 NCE-1 
November 21, 2001 

Jefferson High School: The School Of Change 
Over the years, Jefferson High School has changed and evolved to ensure that 
education is the top priority for its students. Even after a move and a new building, the J- 
Hawk pride still shows bright. 

Until 1979, Jefferson High School was located at 2525 Ohio Parkway in 
Rockford, Illinois. This building became too small to accommodate the growing number 
of students who attended there. The old building is known today as Flinn Middle School. 

In 1975 a few issues were brought to the attention of the Rockford Board of 
Education. One of these problems was due to the overcrowding of other Rockford area 
high schools. The overcrowding issue was caused in part by the size of the old Jefferson 
building, so more students had to go to the other schools due to space problems. The idea 
to build a larger school would help solve this problem. A concerned parent stated that by 
building the new Jefferson Building "This would stop the overcrowding at East High 
School, and also any that may exist at Guilford." (Spychala N. page.) West High School 
was the only school that wasn't becoming too overcrowded. 

The second issue was to promote further desegregation in the school system. 
This would be done by closing Morris Kennedy Middle School and turning the old 
Jefferson into a middle school ("Action Due on Jefferson High Future" N. page). 
Many board meetings were held, and on October 15, 1975 the plans to build the new 
Jefferson High was approved. ("High School is Approved" N. page). Not main people 
were against the building of the new school. There were some negative feelings from 


some of the voters because they felt that the schools close to their homes were being 
cheated out of money ("High School Is Approved" N. Page). 

After the plans to build the new school were approved, the School Board began 
looking for contractors. The budget was set at $1 1.7 million ("High School is 
Approved" N. page). Architect Alden Orput's building design was chosen, so 
construction was able to begin ("Architect's School Plans Get Approval" N. page). 

The construction of the new building took place on the open lot that was owned 
by the Rockford School District next to the Rockford Area Vocational Center. ("77 is 
Target Date for Opening of New School" N. page) Many firms took part in the 
constructing of the building. 

• National Glass did the aluminum work for $ 1 1 0,537. 

• Pearce Butler did the general finishes and enclosed walkway work for $962,010. 

• Carpet Manor did carpet work and installed the carpet for $1 19,438. 

• Thorlief &amp; Larson of Ithasca did interior work for $5 1 9,400. 

• All American Decorating painted for $156,420. 

• American Desks provided laboratory equipment for $1 1 7,419. 

• Larson Equipment Co. installed auditorium seating for $3 1,093. 

• American Seating installed cabinets for $79,645. 

• CFI Lowery-Mcdonnell built the telescoping bleachers for $98,600. 

• Penco Products provided wardrobe lockers for $76,877. 

• Medart Inc provided athletic equipment for $1 8,964. 

• Servco Equipment provided food service equipment for $136,763. 


• List Industries provided athletic lockers for $103,800. (Osoba N. page) 
While building the school pool, a dense bed of limestone was discovered. The 
limestone was removed by carefully using dynamite. Before using the dynamite many 
careful plans had to be thought out, due to the fact that a part of the building's foundation 
was only 20 feet away. This problem caused another $15,000 to be added to the total 
cost of the overall project ("Jefferson High Ready by 1978" N. page). 

When the building was completed, it had 305,000 square feet of floor space and 
three floors with bigger lockers and wider hallways for students to move around more 
freelythan the old building. The new building can hold up to 2,450 students at one time 
( We're On Our Way Jefferson High School Yearbook 1989 Volume 19). 

There have been no new or significant structural changes to the new building 
since it opened in 1979. The only changes have been cosmetic changes. As Nate Robins 
states, "The walls look so much better now that they are white, instead of those ugh 
yellow and orange colors that were on them." "Also, the Jefferson Art Club students 
completed several tiled mosaics murals on many of the inside walls to make the building 
more colorful," states Jason Manuell. 

This writer has many good memories towards this wonderful school and learned a 
lot while attending there. This writer also truly believes that the main goal of the school 
is top quality education for each student. All of the administrators praise the students for 
achieving good grades, and they also set up reward programs for the honor roll students. 
This writer also remembers that one the first day of her high school career, she was 
overwhelmed by the size of this huge building, and the ugly colors that covered even 


single wall on the inside of the building. But other than that, this writer really enjoyed 

the experience of being inside of the building. 

The location of the new Jefferson High School building is at 4145 Samuelson 

Road in Rockford, Illinois. To get to Jefferson, get on 1 1 th Street and go up Highway 25 1 

until the intersection of 1 1 th Street and Samuelson Road meet. Turn left and go straight 

up Samuelson Road. There is a big white and red sign in front of the school that says 

Jefferson High School. This is the front entrance to the building. The bricks of the 

square building are a tanish color, and this makes the bright red letters that spell out 

High School stand out so well. Look to the left and the Rock Valley College facility can 

be seen. The Rock Valley College building is very close to Jefferson building, they are 

adjacent to each other and are divided by a black fence made of iron rods. Look to the 

right and all that can be seen is a huge open field. Go around to the back of the building 

to see the tennis courts and student parking lot. This is where the students park their cars 

and gain entrance into the building. Also, at the back of the building there is a sandy 

walking path. This is used for the P.E. classes for walking on fitness days. Notice that 

there are not many windows in this building, nor is there a football field. The football 

teams have to play at other locations. The home games are played on Auburn High 

School's football field. 

Even after all of these years, Jefferson High School is still standing strong. 

Education will continue to be top priority and learning will prevail The J-Hawk pride 

will continue to grow and grow. 


This is a picture of the old Jefferson High School building. It is known today as Flinn Middle 
School. This picture was taken from the 1994 Flinn Middle School yearbook entitled Visions 
volume 14 Pages B and C. 

II r.i 






These pictures show the name of the school being changed from Thomas Jefferson High School to 
Bernard w. Flinn Middle School. The name changing took, place in 1978. This picture was taken 
from the 1995 Flinn Middle School yearbook entitled Lasting lmmpressions volume 1 5 page 4 


This is the outside drawing Alden Orput designed and showed to the Rock ford Board of 
Education. The design was approved and this is exactly what the front part of the building looks 
like today. This picture came from the article "Architect's School Plans get Approval." Rockford 
Register Star 27 January 1976 from the Rockfordiana Files located at the Rockford Public 
Libraries Reference Section. 


This is a picture of the sign that welcomes people into the Jefterson High School parking lot. Vhi 
picture was taken on December 8,200 1 by Andrea Robins. 


This picture shows the front side and entrance into the building. The part that has tin 
on the roof is the Jefferson Library .This picture was taken on December 8. 
2001 by Andrea Robins. 



This picture shows the back entrance into the school. This is where students park their cars and 
gain entrance into the building. This picture was taken on December 8, 2001 b\ Andrea Robins. 

Andrea Robins 
English 101 NCE-1 
November 19,2001 

Works Cited Page 

"77 Is Target Date For Opening Of New School." Rockford Register Star 1 5 October 

1975. Rockfordiana Files, Rockford Public Library Reference Section. 
"Action Due On Jefferson High Future." Rockford Register Star 4 February 1975. 

Rockfordiana Files, Rockford Public Library Reference Section. 
"Architect's School Plans Get Approval." Rockford Register Star 27 January 1976. 

Rockfordiana Files, Rockford Public Library Reference Section. 
Bonaguro, Richard. " Jefferson High Work Drags On." Rockford Register Star 12 April 

1980. Rockfordiana Files, Rockford Public Library Reference Section. 
Do wd, Sandra. Personal Interview. 8 October 2001. 
Dowd, Sandra. Personal Interview. 12 October 2001. 
"High School Is Approved." Rockford Register Star 15 October 1975. Rockfordiana 

Files, Rockford Public Library Reference Section. 
"Jefferson High Ready By 1978." Rockford Register Star 14 July 1977. Rockfordiana 

Files, Rockford Public Library Reference Section. 
Lasting Impressions , Flinn Middle School yearbook, 1995 Volumn 15 Page 4. 
Manuell, Jason. Personal Interview. 8 October 2001. 
Osoba, Kathy. "Most Jefferson High Work Under Contract." Rockford Register Star 16 

June 1977. Rockfordiana Files, Rockford Public Library Reference Section. 
Robins, Andrea. Personal Knowledge. 12 October 2001. 
Robins, Andrea. Pictures of Jefferson High School taken 4 December 2001 . 

Robins, Nate. Personal Interview. 12 October 2001 . 
Spychala, Pat. Quote taken from "Action Due On Jefferson High Future." Rockford 

Register Star 4 February 1975. Rockfordiana Files, Rockford Public Library 

Reference Section. 
Visions . Flinn Middle School yearbook, 1994 Volumel4. Pages B and C. 

Pekarksy 1 

Jacob Pekarsky 
English 101 
December 10, 2001 

Rockford's Indispensable Jewish Community Center 

During The WWII era, most of the world was very anti-Semitic. 
Rockford, Illinois was no exception. Jews were not welcome in many 
places, including two out of three of Rockford's country clubs (Nelson 1 82). 
The Jewish Community Center (JCC) was founded to give the Jews of 
Rockford a place to congregate, and it evolved to serve the city of Rockford 
at large. 

The Phillip Behr Jewish Community Center was established in 1951 
after the Jewish Federation purchased four-and-a-half acres of land from 
Mrs. Herbert S. Hicks. The building was located on Parkview Ave., next to 
the Sinnissippi golf course, where it still stands today. The construction of 
the building would not have been possible if it were not for Phillip Behr and 
other influential Jews of that time. Mr. Behr was the president of the Jewish 
Federation, and he donated generously from his personal wealth while 
convincing others to contribute as well. 

The total cost of constructing the building was $125,000 ("Speed 
Work On Construction"). It was not easy to raise this money since Rockford 
Jews also wanted to allocate money to the newly-established country of 

Pekarksy 2 

Israel. In the aftermath of the Holocaust, Jews around the world felt that it 
was essential for there to be a Jewish homeland. The Jews needed a country 
where they could govern and protect themselves (Nelson 185). 

Rockford Architect, Raymond A. Orput, designed the one hundred, 
thirteen by forty-three foot building. When the land was purchased, it was 
covered with tall elm trees. The builders were careful to disturb as few of 
these trees as possible in order to preserve the land and give the JCC a 
wooded setting. In addition, a thirty-four by seventy-five foot swimming 
pool was constructed in the back of the building. The upper story of the 
community center contained a large dining room. The second story also 
included a kitchen, a large community meeting room, and office space. The 
ground floor housed a large recreation center, a Boy Scout craft room, and 
utility rooms. Locker and shower rooms were installed to provide sanitary- 
pool conditions ("Speed Work On Construction"). 

In its prime, the JCC was a thriving center for Jewish activity for all 
ages. During 1954, it had a total attendance in all its activities of over 
26,000 people ("Center Draws Over 26,000"). A day camp and nursery 
school was available for the youngsters. Teenagers belonged to an 
international Jewish organization called ETnai B'rith, which included social 
activities, sports, and community service. Social events available for adults 

Pekarksy 3 

included card parties, movies, and festive dances several times a year ("All 
Ages Benefit"). The Jewish Center also housed the Jewish Community 
Board, which raised money and allocated it to various charities. These 
charities, such as the United Jewish Appeal and Mazon, helped people 
locally and around the world. There was a great need to help people who 
were displaced during the war. The Jews of Rockford, much like their 
counterparts around the world, felt the need to continue their financial 
support of Israel (Nelson 185). 

By the 1970s, anti-Semitism was greatly reduced around the world 
with Rockford once again following suit. Many Jews joined the country 
clubs where they were now accepted. This caused a dramatic drop in Jewish 
membership, and as a result, there was financial hardship for the Center. To 
stay viable, the Jewish Center evolved into a neighborhood community 
center serving all faiths. Gentile members were actively recruited to help 
with the expenses, and by 1975, fifty percent of its membership was non- 
Jewish (Nelson 184). By 1990, seventy percent of the two hundred, two 
member families were gentile (Fridl). Presently, the Jewish membership is 
less than ten percent. 

Charitable contributions from the Jewish community dropped. There 
was even talk of closing the center altogether. Goldie Pekarsky, past 

Pekarksy 4 

president of the Jewish Federation, recalls a 1992 meeting of the Jewish 
community at large. Goldie stated, "There was a very heated debate with 
people making impassioned pleas addressing both sides of the issue" (Goldie 
Pekarsky Interview). To make up for this financial decline, the Jewish 
Center turned to the United Way for funding. They received an allocation of 
approximately $25,000 a year for nearly two decades. The United Way 
funding stopped in the mid 1990s, because the center began making a profit 
and did not need the aid any longer. The Center continued to provide the 
same recreational, educational, and social events, but the programming had 
minimal Jewish content. 

Two things occurred that allowed the center to become financially 
independent. One was the hiring of the program director, Connie Paris, in 
the late 1980s who aggressively sought new sources of income for the JCC 
(Goldie Pekarsky Interview). This new income was mostly from renting out 
space in the building and operating income-producing programs. Groups 
such as Weight Watchers, Yoga, and Kumon Math and Reading Center, paid 
top dollar to use the JCC. Profits were made by operating activities such as 
day camp, pre-school, ACT/SAT preparatory classes, swim club, all season 
camp for days off school, before and after school care, RVC continuing 
education classes, and the senior activity center (Jewish Federation 

Pekarksy 5 

Directory). The writer's family has participated in and enjoyed many of 
these programs. The pool was a favorite summer spot for the Pekarskys 
(Jacob Pekarsky). 

The other savior of the JCC was a grant from Governor Ryan's 
Illinois First Fund. This fund was created to improve the infrastructure of 
Illinois. The Jewish Community Center received $27,500 on November 13, 
2000 (Ryan). This money was used to make needed repairs to the building 
including the roof, pool, and furnace. 

Since the Jewish Center no longer served the Jewish Community, the 
board of directors over the last two decades has tried closing the building 
several times. At one time, there were negotiations with the Park District to 
sell the building and pool. Another time, the School of Medicine, which is 
located across the street from the center, considered purchasing the building. 
However, every time the issue of closing the center was brought to a vote of 
the Jewish Community at large, the decision was made to keep the center 
open. The general consensus was that it is good for the Jews to have a 
positive presence in Rockford (Goldie Pekarsky Interview). 

The Jewish Center has been a symbol of the Jews of Rockford for half 
a century. The Rockford Jewish population is very small and. therefore, 
needs a location of visibility to act as a landmark. The media contacts the 

Pekarksy 6 

Jewish Center when they need a Jewish point of view. Politicians have a 
place to go when they want to woo the local Jewish vote. The Center, also, 
provides a place for newly arrived Jews to connect with the Jewish 
community. The JCC is an important institution in Rockford. 

Works Cited 

"All Ages Benefit from Work of Jewish Community Board." Rockford 

Morning Star . 10 July 1956 
"Center Draws Over 26,000." Rockford Morning Star 25 June 1952 
Fridl, H. Melanie. "Jewish Community Center serves all faiths." The 

Rockford Register Star . 17 July 1986. 
Jewish Federation of Greater Rockford. Rockford Area Jewish Community 

Directory. 2001-2002. Pg. 24-27 
Nelson, Hal C. We, the people... of Winnebago County . Winnebago County 

Bicentennial Commission, 1975. 
Pekarsky, Goldie. Personal Interview. November, 2001. 
Pekarsky, Jacob. Writer. November, 2001. 
"Ryan: $417,500 In Illinois First Projects For Rockford." 13 November 

2000. 1 13rock.htm . 
"Speed Work On Construction of $125,000 Jewish Center." Rockford 

Morning Star . 5 April 1956. 


vocation oenod 

Children of many racial backgrounds enjoy summer day camping facilities at Camp 

Kehilah held at the Jewish Community Center during the summer vacation period. 

Caption and Photo courtesy of We the People. 

Leaders of Rockford's Jewish Community donned chefs attire to serve New Year's 

breakfast at the Jewish Community Center. From left to right. Dr. Charles Picus. Peter 

Laufer, Harry Greenberg, Leon Rosenblatt, and Morry Nathan. 

Phot and caption courtesy of We the People. 

The Jewish Community Center as it stands today (2001) 
Photo courtesy of Jacob Pekarsky. 

Dr. J. Harry Bendes was first president of the 
Rockford chapter of B'nai B'rith when it was 

started in 1928. 
Photo and caption courtesy of We the People. 

Louis Behr 
Courtesy of We the People 

Max Liebling, center, was honored for his many contributions to the Jewish Community 

by presentation of a plaque. Other leaders of the Jewish community pictured frpm left tp 

right are Dr. O.W. Weinstein, Philip Behr, and Allan Bloom, former director of the 

Jewish Community Center. 

Photo and caption courtesy of We the People. 

Dedication of Jewish Community Center's new building at 1502 Parkview Ave., Was 

gala occasion in August 1950. 

Photo and caption courtesy of We the People. 

Kirkland Comes Full Circle 

By Sarah Allen 

Fall Semester 2001 - Rock Valley College 

English Composition 1 

Allen - 1 

Sarah Allen 

English 101, Section DT2 
24 November 2001 
Mr. Fisher 

Kirkland Comes Full Circle 

Nestled away in the country lies a hidden town. It is surrounded by corn and bean 
fields. Whatever is not covered with crops holds homes, barns, and pastures with various 
farm animals surrounded by woods. The sweet scent of wildflowers, crops and rain 
storms yet to come hovers over the little town. Kirkland has not always been this small 
and peaceful town. This land over the years has seen many owners, changed dramatically 
as it developed and grew into a major depot for the railway industry. However, the 
town's story has been lost in time and all the remains are dust and ashes 

In the years before 1835, the Pattawattomi tribe lived on the lands that soon 
became Kirkland (Worden 1). This tribe was native to Michigan, but with the white 
settlers moving west, so too would the tribes. This tribe was considered to be Woodland 
Indians, due to the fact that they usually dwelled in lands that were heavy wooded The 
women would raise crops such as beans and corn, which to this day still grow on the 
land. They also gathered berries and nuts. The men hunted deer, beavers and fish with the 
bones of the animals that they had killed. This tribe is often termed as the most advanced 
farmers of the "Three Fires," which included the Pattawattomi, Ottawa and Chippewa 
tribes. This is not that they were the best farmers, but because that they had the most 
fertile land. They are considered to be also one of the most peaceful tribes in the area 

Unfortunately, in September of 1835, the tribe was forced to move west of the 
Mississippi River in accordance with the treaty at Prairie Du Chain in 1832 The trean 

Allen - 2 

not only ended the Black Hawk War, but it also stated all Natives must move west of the 
Mississippi River (Worden 1). The tribe, before they left, made an impact on the early 
white settlers of the area. Eber Lucas, one of the children of the earliest settlers, 
remembers his first encounter with one of the Natives. "I well remember the first Indian I 
ever saw. It was an old squaw who came to our cabin soon after we settled here She had 
torn her old, faded dress and wanted needle and thread. Mother gave her a needle and a 
hank of linen thread - home made. In return the squaw brought a few small ears of blue 
Indian corn." (Larson). 

By 1836, the white settlers had made their homes here on this peaceful, fertile 
land. Three white men traveled to this strange and new land. Andrew and William Miles 
and Samuel Corey built small farms surrounded by where the town now stands 
(Wallestad; Worden 1). They soon found that they were not the only ones moving west 
Another farmer/settler, John McDowell, established a farm in the northern part of 
Kirkland. These farms grew the same crops as did the people of the Pattawattomi tribe 
The actual the year that one could really call this a town was 1837. A gentleman named 
Henry Hicks brought about a new way to profit from the land. Henry Hicks built a 
sawmill two miles outside of the town. This area soon became a popular picnic site and a 
community center. Because this was a place that people would meet, Henry decided that 
it would be good to form a post office near the mill (Worden 6). 

However, the town was still largely isolated from the rest of the nation Traveling 
took days if not weeks. When traveling by horse, mule or boat, the speed was 
approximately 15 miles per hour at the fastest. Then a wonderful thing started toward 
move to the west shortly after the Civil War. Trains made moving from one place to 




Allen - 3 

another easier and much faster. Companies in large cities, such as Chicago, found this as 
a great opportunity to move their goods faster to the Mississippi River to be transported 
down the river. This made the growth of the railroad extremely important 

It is important to know that building a railroad wasn't an easy task Most of the 
time, it was a time consuming and a backbreaking, dirty job. If the land was not flat, they 
would cut into hills and move the soil so the track could lay flat. In fact, some one of the 
tracks that went through Kirkland had to have the land blasted to make sure the track 
could lay flat and go straight along the river. Teams called Wheel Scrapers would cut into 
the ground so that the ties and rails could fit into place. The last thing that they had to do 
was to transport a certain kind of rocks/stones to control the water flow over the tracks 
and to keep water off the ties (Kunsky interview). 

There was also a method to how the companies acquired the land Building the 
tracks on land that was owned by farmers was cheaper than to build it where there was a 
city. In order to get the land, a gentleman from the railroad company traveled from farm 
to farm convincing people to sell their lands. The farmers would sell a portion of their 
land in order to get part of the stock in the company. Then the gentleman have the 
farmers a paper saying that they now owned some stock in the railroad (Kunsky 

A gentleman by the name of William T. Kirk came up with a plan to get the 
railroad company to come through the developing town. He would give the railroad some 
of his land to help build the track. The only thing that he wanted in return was that every 
passenger train that went through the town would have to stop. The company handling 
the deal thought the agreement was fair, so the papers were drawn up and signed 




Allen - 4 

Due to the fact that William gave up his farmland, the town was called Kirkwood 
in his honor. That was the name until 1882 when a postmaster was appointed It was soon 
discovered that there was another post office with the same name. The town then decided 
to change the name to Kirkland. In 1883, one of William's sons began to draw up the 
village's ordinance. The town began to grow. People and business were coming and 
staking their claims. Things were looking up for the town (Worden 1 , Worden interview) 

On January 14, 1883, the first of many problems arose to stand in the way of 
development. A coal fire broke out in the Chicago, Milwaukee &amp; St Paul railroad 
company's coal sheds. It started because of an over heated stove. Two hundred and fifty 
tons of coal in the sheds was destroyed along with five additional railroad cars full of 
coal. The town's people ran to try and save the depot while they were waiting for the 
Elgin Fire Company to respond. Thankfully, the fire company arrived in time to save the 
town and depot ("The Big Fire at Kirkland"). 

Just three months later, a visitor to the town was amazed at how the town had 
recovered from the fire and was once again growing. Being he was a writer for a 
newspaper in Sycamore, he wrote an article stating the Kirkland had improved since the 
fire and it was prospering again ("Kirkland Items"). 

Only a month after the last news article about Kirkland another appeared in the 
paper. This one seemed to be more of a story or prediction of what the town would be in 
the 1940s, based on the fact that the town was growing rapidly It goes on to state that 
Kirkland would be bigger than Chicago and that Elgin would grow to become part of the 
town. The town would have an amazing hotel to provide accommodations for all travelers 
and businessmen. The hotel would have 700 rooms and nine floors The courthouse. 

. • ■ 



Allen - 5 

board of trade, city hall and the local theater would be vastly superior to all in America 
There would be 33 railroad lines through town and the town would own one of the lines 
We know that none of this came true ("Kirkland in 1946"). 

However, someone else arrived in the town with a dream that did come true Only 
years after William Kirk's business deal, another man came to Kirkland with a new plan 
John MacQueen traveled all over the United States for two years before settling down in 
town. He, like William Kirk, became a large landowner and had some plans to help the 
town grow. His fame within in the town lies with being a planner for an artificial lake that 
covers 600 acres, donator and planner of the Rotary MacQueen Forest Preserve and a 33- 
degree Mason in the Kirkland lodge (Hallestad). However, his fame in DeKalb County or 
Northern Illinois lies within the sheep business. Even though MacQueen did import and 
export beef, his company mainly handled the sheep industry (Worden interview). 

At the time, there was a law that sheep could travel on train for no longer than 36 
hours. By pure luck or carefully planning, Kirkland is 36 hours from Omaha, Nebraska 
Omaha is where many sheep started their long journey to Chicago to be packed After 
arriving in Kirkland, the sheep were fed, watered and sheared. Like in any other business 
there is competition. Sycamore, a neighboring town, also handled the sheep industry 
They grew to take turns in being either being first or second, depending on year and 
conditions of the time, in the sheep race against Kirkland (Wallestad) The memories of 
the town's people show that Kirkland handled a great number of sheep Mr Byers. a local 
man, remembers, "Sometimes having to take a detour on the way home when the road 
would be blocked by 300 to 400 sheep" (Pasteur). Many more remember the "sea of 

Allen - 6 

white" as the sheep where transferred from one pasture to the next as they waited to 
continue on their way to school (Worden 3). 

The turn of the century came. At this time there are have records of the railroad 
company and the amount of trains that actually went through town By 1901, there were 
six trains going westbound everyday and five that headed eastbound through the town 
The reasons, of course, were that the sheep industry was growing and because of the deal 
that was made with William Kirk (Scribbins). In 1902, the railroad company, Chicago, 
Milwaukee &amp; St. Paul, decided to build a larger scale and a better operating elevator after 
the one that stood there burned down the winter before. The company began to 
understand that this was a major center for the sheep industry and the way sheep traveled 
was by train. They also understood that it would be wise to invest more money into the 
depot ("Kirkland Elevator"). 

More changes came to the town in 1905 when another line was put in through 
town. The Illinois, Iowa and Minnesota had a track that connected Rockford to Aurora, 
which went through Kirkland. By June 1908 the company changed their name to the 
Chicago, Milwaukee and Gray. A few years later they had to sell and the line was sold to 
the Milwaukee Road (Scribbins). 

With things running so smoothly, disaster seemed to be hiding in the darkness In 
1908, a second fire raged within the town. The fire engulfed the sheep yards and an 
elevator. The cause of this fire is unknown and the details are sketchy. However there are 
many photos, some of which are included at the end of this paper The Marshall elevator 
was destroyed along with a portion of MacQueen's sheep yards (Worden interview) 

Allen - 7 

The fire did not slow the growth of the businesses in the town There are very few 
dates or specific locations for many of the companies within the town In 1912, the first 
bank arrived in town. This bank is credited for not closing down during the Depression, 
when so many other banks did (Wallestad). The stores offered everything a person would 
need. The town had a drug store, general store, hardware store and meat market, just to 
name a few. There was also a switch board center for the telephone company If one 
needed some legal counseling, it could be found at the law offices (Worden 6) The town 
also had some forms of entertainment. Where the present day school stands, there once 
was a large-scale racetrack. People came from as far away as Chicago to place their 
money on a lucky horse. The track was closed down between 1916 and 1917 (Wallestad) 

Changes to the town never seemed to end. In 1922, the railroad companies 
decided to try something new. They issued what was called a "mix train " These trains 
carried both passengers and cargo. The majority of these trains traveled from Rockford to 
Aurora. For some unexplained reason the companies discontinued the use of mix trains in 
1925. Five years later the line that connected Rockford to Kirkland became abandoned 

In 1931, another deal came to the town. Who was involved and why it came to be 
is unknown. Illinois Highway 72 was put in going through town running east to west. It 
runs parallel to the last remaining track line (Wallestad). 

By the 1940s the passenger train travel began to fall off along with the sheep 
business. There were only two trains that passed through town, one train heading in each 
direction one from east and one from west. The population of the town dropped from 
over a thousand in the late 1800s to only 596 in the 1940s Many of the business that 

• ■ • . 

. , ■ ■ . " '■■•'.... 

' . ' ' . 


. ■ ■ 

Allen - 8 

were mentioned before were no longer in town. Most of them moved to the nearby town 
of Belvidere (Worden interview). 

When the United States entered World War II not one town in the nation was left 
untouched to help in the war effort. Kirkland was chosen as one of the 38 sites for a hemp 
mill. German P.O.W.s were brought from Camp Grant along with about 60 Japanese 
itinerant workers. They were transported to the town to work in the hemp fields This 
opened a track line between Kirkland and Camp Grant. The war ended and so did the 
need to hold these people. The people were released, the track became abandoned and the 
hemp fields were replaced by other crops (Wallestad). 

Industries and companies were leaving town quickly, along with the people that 
provided labor. One may wonder what happened to the sheep industry that was started by 
John MacQueen. There are no accurate dates, but sometime in the 1 940s Frank Hunter 
took over the sheep industry. Then again in 1946 another local person tried their hand 
with the sheep business (Worden 3). The Brennan brothers bought out the sheep business 
and 13 years later changed it into a cattle business. A year after the Brennan brothers 
bought the sheep industry the railroad line between Aurora and Rockford also became 
abandoned (Scribbins). 

Businesses were failing and people were no longer coming to Kirkland What 
could possibly make this situation worse? On September 16, 1952 a fire started due to 
spontaneous combustion at 3: 15 in the morning. The fire started in one of the hay barns 
in the former sheep, now cattle yards. This fire destroyed eight trucks and two tractors 
parked near the barn. It also endangered 500 head of cattle. Thanks to efforts of the 


Allen - 9 

firefighters and town's people the cattle were saved. This incident halted any train that 
scheduled pass through town until the late afternoon ("Brennan Yards at Kirkland") 

A few years later another fire came. Two elevators filled with grain caught on fire 
with the reasons unknown. On August 12, 1958, firefighters once again tried to battle the 
blaze. Their fight ended unsuccessfully. The company lost $50,000 in damages, which 
was substantial in those days. Once again the trains through town were halted for three 
hours because fire hoses were stretched across the tracks ("$50,000 Fire Consumes Grain 
Elevators at Kirkland"). 

Both the livestock and railroad companies headed into failure The last passenger 
train stopped in Kirkland during the fall of 1967, thus completely ending the depot 
operation that had once stood there. Then, in May of 1971, all passenger trains stopped 
even passing through town due to the growth and development of the Amtrak system 

As for the structures that once stood to remind people of the greatness this town. . . 
they, like the many others, burned down. In the 1960s someone set fire to the depot and 
surrounding buildings. The buildings could not be saved and the arsonist was never 
caught, leaving behind all traces of a prospering town in ashes (Worden interview) As 
for the stockyards, on April 22, 1996 a grass fire spread to the yards. It was decided by 
the landowner to let the area burn. Pat Brennan, whose father ran the yards, stated, "This 
is like the final episode the last vestige of the major cattle operation in the country " 
The area that was destroyed included a 600-foot-long holding shed that was built in the 
1800s and a "double shed," which was one of the main structures The "double shed" 

i- .. 

Allen- 10 

held 32 pens for cattle or sheep. Pat then went on to say, "The final piece of history has 
been eliminated by nature" (Binder). 

It is said that business and industry play an important part of a town, but it is the 
people that matter, people like William T. Kirk and John MacQueen However, 
Kirkland's list of important people does not end there. Have you ever heard of Gene 
Lamount? He was signed to the Detroit Tigers in 1965 and some time later moved to the 
Chicago White Sox as the manager. He is just one of two people that left the small town 
to go into professional baseball. Burndette Thurlby signed with the White Sox in 1955 In 
addition, the town has seen two national harness racing champions Donald Busse won a 
title in 1963. A few years later Donald was followed by Daryl Busse, who won a title in 
1975. Daryl went on to win his 5,000 th race in 1991 (Wallestad). 

While sitting in eighth grade history, this author's teacher said, "History almost 
always repeats itself." This can be seen with the many fires that plagued the town. 
However, does this mean that the town itself is doomed for the same failure as the 
industries that once stood there? Well, if you ask any of the town's high school students 
they would simply say, "There is nothing in the town and I can't wait to live this place " 
The big cities beckon to many of the younger generations. They see more and often better 
jobs, many kinds of entertainment, better opportunities for education, athletics and 
performing arts. This author can remember many students in various classes and grade 
levels transferring to other schools, mainly Rockford schools, trying to have a better 
chance mainly in sports as well as in education. The population of the town is holding 
somewhat steady at a thousand, but who is to say that it will not fall again Any business 
that enters that town now days seems doomed before it even opens It is hard to keep up 


Allen - 1 1 

with what lies on Main Street. The peeling paint and faded signs of past hopes for 
prosperity and businesses are everywhere. 

It is very much like a sad story. A small town surrounded by farms grows into a 
major business center that in the end, plagued with fires, falls. All that is left of this once 
thriving metropolis is the ashes of the fires, faded or photo copied pictures, archived 
newspaper stories and the memories of the town's elder people. Leaving travelers who 
come across this town to never know the whole story or the greatness that once was here 
As it is said often in the hallways of the high school, the town was doomed from the 

Works Cited 

"$50,000 Fire Consumes Grain and Elevators at Kirkland ." 12 April 1958 
Amanda. "Pottawattomi Indians." (Dec. 1999) : lpp Sept. 2001 

http://www. mi. us/ourtown/comstock/historv/hist5. htm , 
"The Big Fire at Kirkland." Sycamore True Republican 14 January 1 883 
Binder, Jim. "Fire Levels Kirkland Stockyard." DeKalb Chronicle 22 April 1996 
"Brennan Yards at Kirkland Largely Destroyed Sunday." 16 September 1952 
"Kirkland Elevator." Sycamore True Republican 21 June 1902 
"Kirkland in 1946." Sycamore True Republican 28 April 1886. 
"Kirkland Items." Sycamore True Republican 21 March 1883. 
"Kirkland in 1946." Sycamore True Republican 28 April 1886. 
Kunsky, Joe. Personal Interview. October 2001. 

Larson, Sheila. "Early Kirkland Settler Recalls Seeing Indians." No Date 
Pasteur, Bonnie. "Booklet Offers Historical Perspective of Kirkland ." DeKalb Chronicle 

30 June 1982. 
Photos. Joiner History Room. Sycamore Public Library. 
Scribbins, Jim. "Milwaukee Road." Letter Mrs. Connie Worden 28 April 1980 
Wallestad, Holly. "Kirkland Then and Now . ." Aleidoscope 10 December 1992 
Worden, Connie. A Piece of Kirkland Heritage. Kirkland Centennial, 1982. 
Worden, Connie. Personal Interview. October 2001. 

These teams of Wheel Scrapers are operating side-by-side to bring the WR&amp;ETrCo line to grade. Scrapers appear 
to be the No. 1 type which had a theoretical capacity of 6Vz cubic feet. In practice, however, they carried somewhat 


Shearing sheep in Kirkland was one of the many jobs that involved sheep 
This is just one of the many buildings for sheep shearing. 




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Lake-Peterson Home 

Rafael Toledo 

Fall Semester 2001 -Rock Valley College 

English Composition I 

Rafael Toledo 
English 101 
November 22, 2001 

Toledo- 1 

The Lake-Peterson Home 

The Lake-Peterson Home possesses statewide significance as one of Illinois finest 
examples of domestic architecture in the "Victorian Gothic Style." The house is also locally 
significant for its historical associations with two prominent citizens of early Rockford, John 
Lake and Pehr August Peterson. ("National.."). 

John Lake, who built the original structure, was born on March 27 th , 1821, in Selworthy 
Parish, England. He emigrated to the United States in 1837, settling in Rockford. Fifteen years 
later, in 1852, he entered the first of several partnerships in the lumber trade. The last of these 
was the Seely Perry partnership, formulated in 1868 after returning from a visit to England. 
Apparently, the architectural style of British homes of that period left a favorable impression on 
Lake, as these influences are evident throughout the State Street residence he began building for 
his family in 1873. Following the death of Mr. Lake in 1907, his son, Frank L. Lake, inherited 
the home. Then, a few years later, in 1918, it became the property of Mr. P. A. Peterson 

Pehr August (P.A.) Peterson, who added gothic touches to 
the home, was born in Ving, Vestergotland, Sweden, on September 
8 th , 1846, coming to the United States in 1857. Working first as a 
farm hand, he began his manufacturing career in Rockford in 1 875. 
when he founded the Union Furniture Company. Eventually, he 
became dean of Rockford furniture manufactures and one of the 
most important figures in the industrial and commercial 
development of the city. Active in both municipal and state affairs, Peterson was president of the 

Board of Trustees of the newly-opened 55-bed Swedish American Hospital when he purchased 
the Lake residence. At the time of his death in 1927, he was president of more than a dozen 
industrial firms instrumental in Rockford's growth. Peterson transferred ownership of the home 
to Swedish American Hospital in 1919, at which time he and his wife were granted lifetime 
tenure. There is probably no one in the history of Rockford who contributed more to the 
development of the city's major industries and who was directly responsible for the creation of 
more jobs and more general prosperity over the years than P. A. Peterson. (Lundin 80) 

P.A. Peterson and Ida Mae Anderson, were married in Marinette. 
Wisconsin, in 1903. At the peak of his industrial career in 
Rockford, they moved to the 1313 East State Street mansion in 
1919. After her husband's death in 1927, Mrs. Peterson spent 
much of her time at a family cottage in Iowa, returning to 
Rockford for a brief visit each year ("P.A. Peterson House"). 

Time travel is as easy as a trip to the Lake-Peterson Home. Possibly the most popular 
recreational area in the city of Rockford is the Sinnissippi Riverfront located along Highway 
251/South Second Street. Along the bike path a visitor could get acquainted with the biograpln 
of some of the people that helped make Rockford the city that is today. Continuing southbound 
past Ethel Street towards the Rockford YMCA, take the Sixth Street exit. Merge into the left 
lane, to State Street, then make a left turn heading east. Continue eastbound past the 1 ongwood 
Plaza Building and the First Bank Building. 

One block past Ninth Street on the right is the Lake Peterson Home, Located at 1 3 1 3 East State 
Street. The architecture style is Victorian Gothic, fairly common in England at the time, but 
seldom used for residences in this country. Today, The Lake-Peterson Home is considered to be 
one of the top thirty Victorian Gothic Structures in the state of Illinois. ("National.."). 

Asymmetrical in plan and massing, this two-story detached residence is constructed of 
yellow brick with steeply-pitched slate tile roofs and a stone foundation. A decorative gable 
graces each of the four sides of the original portion of the house. Tall brick chimneys with 
corbeled chimney caps and polygonal chimney pots, dormers, bay windows, and a spacious 
verandah also contribute to the Lake-Peterson House's picturesque appearance. 

The exterior trim is particularly worthy of note. Architectural historian Paul Sprague 
wrote, "The details are exquisitely designed and executed."' At gable edges, the designer 

eschewed the typical curvilinear or "gingerbread"-type vergeboard in favor of dramatically 
simple pointed arch forms ornamented with pendants. Window treatment is distinguished by its 

variety. Three of the four sides of the 
house feature bay windows, two-tier 
bay windows on the east and west 
sides, and a one-story bay window 
with quatrefoil-pattem balustrade on 
the north. Elsewhere, windows are 
surmounted by decorative limestone 
hood molds incised with a foliated 
pattern (the one over the main entrance is embellished with the first owner's initials as well). 
Windows themselves range from simple double-hung sash windows on the second floor to 
diamond-pane tracery windows with colored glass highlights in the first-floor sitting room. Attic 
windows are of the quintessentially Gothic pointed-arch type ("National.."). 

Gothic architecture was quite an influential style in the Lake-Peterson Home and 
throughout the world. Beautiful buildings were built with the buttresses, pointed arches and 
tracery that made Gothic such a popular style. Many of these buildings still stand today. In the 
United States, even though it faced many adversities, Gothic architecture was a popular style 
that could be found throughout the country. In both the North and South, the Gothic architectural 
style was used for public buildings, homes, and churches. In the early 1800s the beginning of the 
Gothic Architectural Revival's popularity surged. Before then, throughout the entire I tailed 
States there was only one major building that used the Gothic style, the New York Second 

Toledo -5 
Trinity Church. One of the many reasons Gothic architecture was rejected was that the builders 
and owners wanted their buildings to be symmetrical. At the time, symmetry was one of the most 
popular elements in the architecture found in the United States, buildings built in any particular 
architectural style were usually built in Greek or Roman architecture style. Both styles allowed 
for the use of symmetry. The Gothic architectural style like the one used in the Peterson Home, 
does not allow for symmetry or level skylines ("Factor.."). 

The symmetrical building in the classical style was preferred in the South. The Southern 
planters felt that these buildings had an air of monumentality about them. Later in the century, 
when porticos and other classical elements began to symbolize arrogance and authoritarianism, 
the architecture of American buildings began to move away from the classical styles. While the 
architects were moving away from the classical styles, they were moving towards the Gothic 
asymmetrical structures ("Factor.."). 

The Jenny Lind Society, organized in 1920 as an auxiliary to Swedish American 
Hospital, furnished hospital equipment and sponsored scholarships for Swedish American 
Hospital. The society occupied the Lake Peterson Home from 1973 to 1977, when the home was 
known as Jenny's. One of their main goals was to undertake the tasks of restoring the home to its 
original elegance and beauty. Jenny's was a big house transformed into a mini-marketplace, a tea 
room and shopping complex where shoppers could have lunch, buy gifts, add to their wardrobe 
or find items that would enrich the character of their homes. Sharing the first floor \\ ith the 
kitchen were the "Creatively Yours Studio" and "Clothes N* Things". Holly Meyer and Carol 
Swanson operated the "Creatively Yours Studio," where professional American crafts 

Toledo -6 
from local artists were available. On the second floor, was the Jenny Gift Boutique which 
featured hand-made children's clothes. Also on the second floor was "Memory Lane," a small 
shop of antiques and collectibles owned and operated by Mr. and Mrs. E. D. Johnson. An interior 
decorator, Peter Anderson, who helped redecorate the Peterson Home, had his "Design II Studio" 
just off the stairs hallway. Across the hall, operated by George Slafkosky and sister Geri, was the 
"Mansion Book Store," featuring fine books, classical records and art prints. Another sister, 
Nancy, had the fragrance Boutique at the rear of the upstairs hall just past the Jenny Gift 
Boutique. ("Cork") 

When I met my wife Kathy in the mid' 70s, she was working for one of the shops in the 
home (The Creatively Yours Studio). This is how she remembers the Lake-Peterson Home. 

"I worked in the home when it was called Jenny 's. It was always full of customers 
enjoying the unique shops and the delicious lunches prepared in the restaurant. I still believe 
that the biggest drawing factor was the home itself It seemed no matter how often people came 
to Jenny 's, they were constantly awestruck by the beauty of the home. " 

The restoration team set a double goal: to enhance the house's structural utility and its 
historic charm and personality. One of the first major projects on the exterior of the home was to 
clean, not sandblast, the brick. This was carefully done to make sure the cleaning process did not 
destroy the face of the brick. Sandblasting would make the brick porous and subject to future 
deterioration. The brick walls were then made to look like 1875 new with a fresh coat ofbuff- 
colored paint. In other exterior improvements, the original slate roof was repaired . the ornate 
Chimney pots were rebuilt on all the chimneys, the window's walk high atop the steep-pitched 

roof was reconstructed with a fragment of the original as a pattern. The rest of the Victorian 
furbelows adorning the peak and gables were also repaired. After 250 man-hours of carpentry, 
the restoration of the exterior was complete. One of the challenges was to restore the ornate 
wood which had to be made piece by piece and by hand all over again. Once the wood work was 
repaired, the total house trim was painted a vintage color named Palmer House green, for the 
famous Chicago hotel. It is believed that buff and green are the Lake-Peterson's original colors. 
Inside the home, the 19 th -century ambiance is equally authentic. Light fixtures in every room 
were replaced, all with antiques, all the broad plaster cove moldings were re-done, and all nine 
fireplaces, eight are white marble and one terra-cotta. The fireplaces were relentlessly scrubbed 
clean with a powerful mixture of bleach, dreft soap and lime-away that "literally at the sponges", 
one developer had said (Carlson). 

The Lake-Peterson home received recognition from the National Society of the 
Daughters of the American Revolution, in 1973. In 1974, the home won on Eye Delight award 
for refurbishing. Today, some of the Swedish American's corporate headquarters are located in 
the home, which was entered in the National Register of Historic places on June 25. 1980. On 
August 27, 1982 the home received an Approval of Historic Preservation Certificate 

The extensive rejuvenation of the nationally-registered landmark was achieved in eight 
months by Sjostrom and Sons Inc., the general contractor; architect Wayne W. Johnson: Carol 
Bloomberg, a Minneapolis interior design consultant; and Mortgage Consultants Investment 
Properties, Ltd., a development firm that bought the property from Swedish American Hospital 

on a contractual basis. "The ground is still owned by Swedish American Hospital, and we in turn 
will give the building back to the hospital in 20 years," said Walter L Koch, president of 
Mortgage Consultants (Carlson). 

The Lake-Peterson home has become a kind of public commodity in Rockford. This 
home is a reminder of the perseverance of one of Rockford's greatest citizens. His contemporary 
Leven Faust called P. A. Peterson, "Rockford's greatest citizen" ("National.."). 

When someone speaks of the Lake-Peterson home, they talk about beauty, style, 
mystique and uniqueness. In today's fast-paced society, it is impressive to see that we are taking 
the time to preserve places like the Lake-Peterson Home. When Americans first travel through 
Europe, they are astonished when they visit old towns and castles hundreds of years old. "No two 
homes are a like, they appear to have a warm, soothing welcoming feeling about them" my 
wife's cousin replied when she showed us pictures of her European trip. Our towns in America 
are becoming full of "me too" boxes with very little to look at except for the well kept lawns. 

Today the Lake-Peterson Home houses some offices for Swedish American Hospital. The 
Petersons would be honored to see their home used for this purpose. They would also be 
extremely pleased to see the care Rockford has taken in preserving their beautiful home. 

Some time in the early 1 800s. Courtesy, Swedish American Hospital. 

The beautiful winding staircase graced by an exquisite banister. 
Courtesy, Swedish American Hospital. 

A view from the back of the home. Although it is shown covered by show. The Peterson's rear 
garden was a Rockford showplace, featuring a Lily-filled pool and graceful balustrade, offsetting 
careful landscaping. At the height of summer, multi-colored iris plants lined a long reflecting 
pool. Kingfisher birds from the Rock River defeated the Peterson's repeated efforts to stock the 
pool with goldfish ("P.A. Peterson House"). Courtesy, Swedish American Hospital. 

Works cited 
Lundin, John W. Rockford: An Illustrated History . Chatsworth, CA: Windsor Publications, 1989. 
National Register of Historic Places inventory — Nomination form . Nov. 1978. 
"P. A. Peterson House". Rockford Area Guide . May 1974. 
Factors that Inhibited the growth of Gothic Architecture. 

[http://pratt.edU/~arch543p/help/architecture.html#9] 10 Sept. 2001. Available. 
Carlson, Leona. "Developers re-do Lake-Peterson in its Own Original image" Rockford 

Register Star. No date available. 
Cork, Bob. "Jenny's" Rockford Newspaper Inc. No date Available. 
Toledo, Kathy. Personal interview. 16 November 2001. 

Oris Arreguin 
Fall Semester 2001 
Rock Valley College 
Hnglish Composition 

Gris Arreguin 
English 101 NCE 1 
9 December 2001 

The Popular Levings Park 

The Levings Park is one of Rockford's first recreational areas that brings anyone 
who visits it a sense of peace and enjoyment. Located on South Peirpont and South 
Johnston Avenues, it contributes a beautiful scenery to the southwest side of the city. 
After eighty years of being open to the public, many people still consider the park to be 
the loveliest of all the parks in the district. 

To locate the park, South Central Avenue can be taken to Montague Street. Left 
on Montague Street. The park's entrance is on Montague Street. 

Years ago, this park, that attracts so many people, used to be agricultural farmland 
owned by Mr. Thomas Goodman Levings, former Rockford Township Highway 
Commissioner ("Levings Park Bears Name..."). 

According to an article about Mr. Thomas G. Levings in Past and Present of 
Rockford and Winnebago County written by Charles Church, Mr. Levings" hard labors 
resulted in a well-developed farmland. He owned three hundred and sixty acres of land in 
Harlem Township in addition to his farm of one hundred and forty acres in Rockford 
Township. Because of all the care and labor he dedicated to his fields, he became 

Mr. Levings was also in charge of the roads of his township for thirty-eight years. 
There was only a mile of paved road when he was elected road commissioner, bui when 
he retired from office, there were more than seventy-eight miles of successful 1\ 
completed macadamized roads ("Past and Present..."). 


In 1919, the city asked the Levings family if it could use some of their land in the 
southwest side of Rockford to convert into a park. Meanwhile, The Park District leased 
the land for only $1 .00 a month. In 1 920, Mr. Levings donated the 1 23 acres of land with 
the stipulation that a nominal rent be paid to him and to his wife during their lifetime 
("Popular Levings Park..."). 

The Levings Park was opened in 1920, but was undeveloped and used primarily as 
a picnic area ("Levings Lake Boat Project Scheduled"). In order to become an attractive 
park, the land needed major improvements. 

The following year, the trees on the property suffered from a severe drought and 
many were cut and reshaped. In 1922, the 90-foot well at the stone quarry was repiped. 
so it would furnish an adequate supply of drinking water for the increasing number of 
picnickers ("Popular Levings Park..."). 

A special feature that attracts many is the limestone quarry in the park that has 
formations believed to be 450 million years old. The rocks are abundant in fossils 
including that of the cephalopod, an ancient relative of the octopus. This limestone was 
used in the foundations of many Rockford's buildings and the city used it for gravel for 
road surfacing ("Popular Levings Park..."). 

Another extraordinary feature of this park is a unique flower, the pasquel flower, 
which means Easter flower. It is common in states west of Illinois but is rare in this area 
of Rockford. The light lavender blossoms are three to four inches in diameter and the 
small plants only blossom for a two-week period in the spring ("Levings Park Bears 

Mr. Thomas G. Levings died May of 1924 before the Park District was able to 

carry out any extensive development of the area. In his will, he surprisingly left $7,000 
for the board to use for the permanent improvements in the new park ("Popular Levings 

In 1928, the commission wanted to improve the swimming hole located in the 
Kent Creek. Then, it was decided to do a major renovation of the park. A lakebed would 
be built to control the small body of water. The Park District explains that the project 
was delayed because of negotiations concerning water rights below the lake. 

Four years later, the problem with the water rights was resolved. By this time, the 
"Great Depression" had come and the park's improvement started as a Works Project 
Administration project in 1932. The WPA was a nationwide federal funded program that 
provided many people with jobs during the 1930's when the economy declined. They 
were the ones that made the Levings Lake Park happen ("Popular Levings Park..."). 

More than 250 men excavated the farmland to make the lakebed and built the dam 
to Kent Creek, which was the water supply for the lake. It was estimated that 64.000 
cubic feet of earth was removed from the lakebed, and 44,000 of it was dug by hand. The 
soil removed was used to level many local areas. The major portion? however, were used 
in construction of the dam ("Popular Levings Park..."). 

Meanwhile, the two miles of road were cut through the park. The Park District 
explained that part of the new road was built to follow the new artificial lake's shore and 
to provide a scenic drive. As the roads were being built, plants were also planted. Most 
of them were evergreens ("35-Acre Lake..."). 

The Levings Lake Park officially opened in the winter o\' 1 935. The new lake's 
first use was as an ice skating rink. "People that could drive were advised to ice skate 

/i/i f-Zi-35 

there because the other places were getting to crowded," explained the Rockford Register 
Star in the "35-Acre Lake..." article. 

Mrs. Helen Levings passed away in 1943 and left the park's title to the city. Since 
then, it has gone through continuous development. 

In 1978, the Park District constructed the first tennis courts and an outdoor 
basketball court. They were dedicated to Mrs. Florine Wright for her community interest, 
leadership, and a life-long dedication to the well being of all youth. This attracted 
younger people to the park. Meanwhile, the lake was suffering through a terrible drought 
("Bath House Going Up..."). 

People were able to swim in the Levings Lake in the 1930s through the 1950s, but 
silt started forming in the bottom of the lake in the 1960s making the water unsuitable for 
swimming and fishing. Also, a Kent Creek flood control project in the 1970s nearly dried 
up the lake completely. The whole park became run down (Bath House Going Up..."). 

The Rockford Register Star in the article "Bath House Going Up..." states. "The 
Park District did not put much into the Levings Park, because it thought no one cared." 

Someone did care. In 1935, Chuck Jackson, an interested citizen, met with other 
residents of the Levings Lake area, and formed a committee called the Concerned 
Citizens for a Better Community. Together, they were able to accumulate 250 signatures 
on a petition to the Park District. 

Jackson said once the committee addressed the Park Board about their concerns, 
they received excellent cooperation. Both the citizens and the board members worked 
together to revitalize the lake and park for families. 

In 1935, the Army Corps of Engineers drained the lake to rebuild the dam as pan 

of the $7 million Kent Creek Flood Control Project. They restored the 50-year-old, 
hardpan and clay lake basin, which had become an aquatic weed field. The Park District 
also set aside $1.1 million for the Levings' project. 

According to the Park District, the lake was drained and dredged at a cost of 
$505,000. Then, more than $600,000 was spent to build the beach, refurnish the 
bathhouse and restrooms, and add the following: playgrounds, fishing piers, parking 
spaces, new basketball and tennis courts, and to put lights on existing courts so they could 
be used at night. The lake was also restocked with 1,000 catfish to attract fishermen. The 
park was re-dedicated in July 14, 1990 ("Bath House Going Up..."). 

Jerome Thomas, a former resident near the Levings Lake Park, recalls when Joe 
Standfield, a Park District employee, drowned while working at the Levings Lake Dam. 
Mr. Standfield had served the district for 15 years, 10 of those years as the foreman at the 
Levings Lake Park. In his memory, the Joe "J.D." Standfield Memorial Swimming Beach 
and Shelter were dedicated on September 6, 1 990. 

In 1997, the Park District closed the lake after water quality tests revealed high 
levels of E. coli and other types of fecal bacteria. This bacterium poses a serious health 
risk to young children who swallow contaminated water ("Levings, Olson clear of 

A couple of months later, the problem of the harmful bacteria was resolved, and 
the public returned to the opened beach. 

Vance Barrie, an employee at the Park District, explained that heavy 
storms caused the Kent Creek to flow heavier and stirred up the bottom of the lake and 
created a higher count of E. coli. 

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Ibert Jordan lives three doors from the park: "People will come from all over the city to enjoy the beach." 

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Jay Sandeine also works for the Park District. His job is to test the water weekly 
for E. coli. He says that the lake closes to the public for a couple of weeks until the 
problem is naturally resolved. The dam plays an important part in filtering the water. 
Chemicals can not be used on a fresh body of water. 

Despite of having gone through some obstacles, Levings Lake Park has always 
been the most popular park for Rockford's southwest residents. This recreational area 
has helped the author, as well as other, live memorable moments. 

This author not only admires the beautiful view of the park but also cherishes 
many times spent there. She has visited the park for the past decade. A warm feeling 
overcrowds her body when she remembers spending time her boyfriend, who is now her 
husband, near the peaceful lake. "I like to sit near a shady area and admire the huge, 
green pine trees that surround the park that look like if they are posing in an oil painting, 
while providing the perfect shade," she comments. 

Another person that has enjoyed the setting of the park is Arthur Neil, a Rockford 
resident for over forty years. 

"I used to escape from everything and spend quiet evenings there in the 
summer. I fished for channel catfish and drank beer. I don't go out the 
anymore, because I'm too old to move around by myself, but if 1 could do 
it again, I would, "he says. 
Mr. Warren Grow was raised on a farm near the Levings Lake Park. 1 le 
remembers when the park was first opened to the public. "It has not changed much, but it 
does look so much nicer with all the facilities it has now." he adds. He enjoys walking at 
the park. He also advises everyone to take care of the park, since it is considered to be 

the most beautiful park in the southwest area of Rockford. 

Throughout the years, continuous development has been made to the livings 
Lake Park. Many people can enjoy the park and its setting for what it is today, from the 
grains and crops that were harvested in the fields to the relaxing and soothing walks in the 
park, Rockford has undergone an enormous change throughout modern day civilization. 
Behind it all, the land alone leaves an interesting piece of history that informs generations 
to come about some of Rockford's greatest history. 

Works Cited 
"A Drying Levings Lake is..." Rockford Park District. Photo. No Date. 
Arreguin, Oscar. Personal interview. 1 2 November 2001 . 
Barrie, Vance. Historian. Rockford Park District. Telephone interview. 1 November 

"Bath House Going Up; Levings Swimming Near." Rockford Register Star. 

Rockfordiania Files. Rockford Public Library. No Date. 
"E. Coli Closes Levings Beach." Rockford Register Star 2\ June 1997. Rockfordiana 

Files. Rockford Public Library. 
Elbert, Jordan. Rockford Register Star. Photo. 8 June 1990. 
Gomez, Celina. Personal interview. 14 November 2001. 
Grow, Warren. Telephone interview. 1 November 200 1 . 

"Levings Park Bears Name of Its Donor." Rockford Register Star. 29 January 1 967. 
"Levings Park Dam." Rockford Register Star . 27 April 1935. 
"Levings Lake Boat Project Scheduled." Rockford Register Star. 13 March 1969. 

Rockfordiana Files. Rockford Public Library. 
Neil, Arthur. Personal interview. 26 October 2001 . 
Nelson, C. Hal, ed. Sinnissippi Saga: A History of Rockford and Winnebago County. 

Illinois. Rockford, Illinois: Winnebago County Illinois Sesquicentennial 

Committee, 1968. 720-721 
"Popular Levings Park was First Considered in 1919." Rockford Park District. 1 act 

Sheet. No Date. 
"Quarry at Thomas G. Levings Park." Rockford Park District. Photo. No Date. 


Works Cited Continued 
Sandeine, Jay. Rockford Park District. Telephone interview. 22 November 2001 . 
"Spillway at Dam." Rockford Register Star. Photo. No Date. 
"Thirty- Acre Lake Chief Feature of New Tract." Rockford Register Star. 1 1 December 

1935. Rockfordiana Files. Rockford Public Library. 
"Thomas G. Levings Park." Information Sheet. Rockford Park District. 

Rockford, Illinois. 29 January 1988. 
Thomas, Jerome. Personal interview. 24 October 2001. 
"Twelfth Annual Report." Board of Commissioners Rockford Park District. Rockford. 

Illinois. 1921. Photo. 
"View in Thomas G. Levings Park." Rockford Park District. Photo. No Date. 

The Lucius Reed Home Stands Alone 
Katie Volsch 
11 October 2001 

Katie Volsch 
11 October 2001 
English 101 

The Lucius Reed Home Stands Alone 
The world has changed, and one house has remained the same. The 
Lucius Reed home in Byron, Illinois has gone through many decades without 
changes and few with minor ones. What is the significance of this house, and 
why is it still standing as the town museum? The world seems to revolve around 
this one house, but has the house been hidden from society? 

In 1835, a man named Jared Sanford rode through the area now known 
as Byron, Illinois: 

He was on his way from Galena to Midway (Rockford's original name) 
where he hoped he would find work. He was captivated by the 
uniqueness and fertility of the area where the Sinisepo River (Rock River) 
flowed east and west. He stopped to stake a claim, and then continued on 
his journey. When he arrived in Midway (Rockford), he met up with his 
brother Joseph. He told him about this land and asked for him to return 
for a visit with him. On July 1 they journeyed down the Rock River where 
they found this beautiful land. Joseph staked a claim also and built two 
cabins. Jared named the new settlement Fairview. They then left and 
returned to Midway (Rockford) for the winter. In 1836, when the two men 
returned, they found that other settlers had arrived. (Sherman 56) 

Volsch 2 
Lucius Reed and his family were one family of settlers that arrived in 
October. He brought his family from Vermont. Silas St. John Mix built the first 
house in the village in 1836. The second house built was in 1837. It was the 
Lucius Reed home (Turner 78). The Reeds determined that a new, more 
substantial home was needed after their arrival, so they enlisted the help of 
Pardon Kimball. He undertook the task of building the home (Turner 99). It was 
a lovely home with rooms on both floors and ample storage in the cellar and attic. 
An addition to the north was added later, and it served the family quite well for 
many years (Turner 1 77). The brick on the outside of the home has been 
painted yellow many times over the years. 

As there was no hotel in the community, this house served as an inn, as 
well as a tavern, and even a printing house. It served for a time as a post office, 
school, and store until other, more suitable buildings could be found. For some 
time this house served as a place of business as well as a church (Howard 188- 
189). Being Congregationalists, the Reeds allowed that the church of that 
denomination should meet in their home until such time as the small 
congregation could build a fitting new sanctuary. The north wing also served as 
a commercial establishment for a time, until Mr. Reed acquired land just north of 
the house and built a business there (Byron Museum). 

In 1837, the first meeting of the Congregational Church of Byron was held 
in the Reed house. As early as 1842, Missouri slaves became passengers on 
the Underground Railroad that included at least three stations in Byron. One 

Volsch 3 
station was a large stone barn on the Eranbrack farm west of Byron, another was 
the Lucius Reed home in the village, and the third was a huge stone barn on the 
Charles Tanner farm east of the village (Byron). The latter had caves and 
tunnels built into the walls for further security. Meals for the fugitives were 
prepared in a hotel across the street from the Reed house called The Pacific 
House Hotel. Accounts of the underground operation indicate that the slaves 
traveled in groups by wagon or bobsled concealed in a load of hay. The journey 
from point to point was usually made at night; by day the fugitives were hidden 
and given food and rest. Those received in Byron came from Buffalo Grove and 
were sent to Rochelle (Midwest). According to Reed's daughter Lydia Artz the 
last known slaves to pass through the Reed house came in 1862. 

The house remained a residence until 1945 when it was sold and became 
a restaurant and tavern. It was named "The Barn". In 1988, a group of investors 
purchased the home, and in 1990 a Museum District was formed to care for and 
operate the house. (Byron Museum) The museum is opened Monday thru Friday 
from 8:00 am until 5:00 pm, and by appointment. There are no current plans for 
the future of the museum except to keep informing the public of the history of 

Though this house is still standing and has gone through minor changes, it 
is still a reminder of what the past has to teach us. A few coats of paint cannot 
hide the pain and struggle that the people who traveled in the Underground 
Railroad shared with the people of Byron. The Lucius Reed home will be a 

Volsch 4 
constant reminder that no matter how hard things get, there will always be 
someone around to help out. No matter how far away someone may be from, 
and no matter how far someone has to travel, the people and the history behind 
Byron will be there in time of need. 


"Byron, Illinois 61010." Yahoo Mapquest. Jan 2001: lp. Online, internet. 2 Nov. 

2001. URL: 
Byron Museum District. "Who is Lucius Read?" Ask Oct. 1999: 3pp. Online. 
Internet. 6 Nov. 2001. URL: 

Howard, Robert P. "Illinois, A History of the Prarie State." Grand Rapids, Michigan: 

William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company. 1 972. 
Midwest Info Community. "Byron Illinois Profile." Comportone. March 1996: lp. 

Online. Internet. 12 Nov. 2001. URL: 

Sherman, Ardis L. "Reflections." Byron, Illinois: Village of Byron Illinois. 1976. 
Turner, Glennette Tilley. "The Underground Railroad in Illinois." Glen Ellyn, Illinois: 

Newman Educational Publishing Company. 2001 . 

Volsch 5 

The Lucius Reed Home in 1938 


Pictured above: Myron 
Kimball, Amanda Salisbury 
Kimball, Ida Harriet Kimball 
Davis, Pardon Taylor 

Rockford's Memorial Hall: 
A Cultural Symbol 

Cesar Guerrero Chalas 

Fall Semester 2001 

Rock Valley College 

English Composition I 

Cesar Guerrero Chalas 

Fall Semester-Rock Valley College 2001 

English Composition 1 

Rockford Memorial Hall-A Cultural Symbol 
Rockford Memorial Hall is a monument that has saved former soldiers' memories for 
one century. Patriotic feelings flourished and spread among the population of this town 
at the very end of the nineteenth century. This was why the construction of the building 
to honor former soldiers became a priority for the community. Since its dedication by 
President Theodore Roosevelt in 1903, the building has become a kind of symbol in 
Rockford. So, in order to rescue it, it has been remodeled twice. Through reconstruction, 
the entire city, the veterans and the future generations can benefit from the structure. 

In the late Nineteenth Century, people in Rockford were thinking about building a 
memorial. Their understanding was that numerous soldiers and sailors from this city and 
other parts of the country had fought in the Civil War and Spanish American Wars 
defending the United States of America (Memorial Hall). So, the community decided to 
save those national heroes' memories in an place where they were saved. As a result, it 
was agreed that the best way to do that was by building a solid structure like Memorial 

It was impossible to get the project approved by the Winnebago County Board in 
1875, because the economic situation of the city was critical, and the Counts would ha\ e 
to spend more than 50,000 dollars for the construction ("About Memorial Hall"). Then in 
1901, residents of Winnebago County proposed again to erect the monument, and final l\ 
the Winnebago County Board voted to proceed with the planned Memorial ("About 
Memorial Hall"). 

Guerrero Chalas 2 
Construction of the monument started immediately with Bradley and Carpenter the 
architects who designed the plans and W. Cook constructor who was in charge of the 
construction, (no title). 

Eighteen months later, it was completed, and the entire population of Rockford was 
eagerly awaiting its dedication. 

The building was dedicated on June 3, 1903 by President Theodore Roosevelt. The 
dedication of the monument is considered to have been one of the most important events 
ever seen in Rockford. The city's business section was decorated with thousands of 
flags. Those decorations were among the finest in Rockford history("Flags everywhere" 
no date) This day was declared a holiday in this town. That was why there were several 
thousand people in the streets and by the windows of the houses. All of them were 
anxiously trying to see what was happening ("Memorial Hall Witmense Crowd — City 
Give Welcome"). 

When the President arrived in the presidential train, a huge enthusiastic crowd of 
20,000 people received him. Then he started the dedication. He said "1 consider myself 
fortunate in being able to come today to this city to dedicate this beautiful Memorial 
Hall... a Hall beautiful in itself and beautiful because of the uses to which it is 
consecrated... to the veterans, you the men in every gathering (who are) the first citizens 
of the republic 11 (Snyder 312). Later, he went inside the monument and he was deepK 
moved ("Veterans" ) He greatly admired veterans because he was a soldier with the 
Rough Riders and he felt involved with them. The birth of the building was celebrated 
this way, because it was as if a brand new landmark had been born to the community 

Guerrero Chalas 3 

Since the dedication of the monument, it has been remodeled twice. In 1 955, the 

interior was partly remodeled. Repairs were made in places that were in critical 

condition such as leaking in the roof and some cornices. The kitchen and dining room 

were painted (Memorial Hall) Some people said that what was done was not enough 

That meant that, in order to keep the building in shape, the County would have to do a 

major remodeling job. A citizen of Rockford named Munson said: "If they want to keep 

Memorial Hall, then they are going to have to spend a lot of money." (Memorial Hall 

Looks Better. Needs more work). From 1988 to 1990, the Winnebago County Board 

spent more than two million dollars and restored the entire interior of the building 

(Jurasek interview). Since that job took place, the inside looks remarkably different. All 

the walls were painted and new lights were installed (Jurasek interview) The exterior 

was not repaired. 

From its dedication until now, different groups of veterans have been using the 

monument. The requirement for using the building was that a group must be a sen ice 

organization or be connected to a service organization. In the beginning, veterans met in 

the structure, but they were not considered to be in specific groups. They were simply 

soldiers who wanted to share experiences with other soldiers. In 1950 there were 20 

groups of veterans using the building ("20 groups use Memorial Hall.") The fallowings 

are some of them: 

Women' s Groups 

Women's Relief Corps 
Navy Club Auxiliary 
Navy Mothers Club 
WAVE Mothers Club 

Guerrero Chalas 4 
Spanish American War Veterans Auxiliary 
American Legion Auxiliary 
Am vets Auxiliary 
Marine Corps League Auxiliary 
Purple Heart Auxiliary 
Disabled Veterans 

Men's Groups 

American War Veterans 
American Legion 
Veterans of Foreign Wars 
Purple Heart 
Disabled Veterans 

They had meetings, dinners, bazaars, and recreation, which constituted a kind of 
entertainment for them. Today, there is only one group of veterans using Memorial Hall 
(Rounds, interview). They use their office, which is located in the basement, to help 
other veterans with government assistance, and they raise money to take care of other 
veterans, medical problems (Jurasek. Personal interview). This is a good way to make 
other national heroes lives a little easier. 

The structure has been used for several purposes. The first decades, after it was 
dedicated, the entire building was used by veterans, and no area was rented. Today, there 
are different kinds of activities such as: 1 ) The basement. A portion of the basement is 
occupied by veterans. There are hundreds of items from the army on display including: 
hats, swords, bullets, weapons, and soldier' uniforms. 2) The first floor. The entire floor 
is rented by the Convention and Visitors Bureau, an institution that promotes the tourism 
of the whole area of Rockford. They provide information about tours all over the cit\ 
But they are, however, talking of moving to another place, because they need more room 
for their offices (Barnard interview). 3) Second floor. This floor is where the auditorium 

Guerrero Chalas 5 
is located. This area is rented to different organizations for meetings and musical 

Finally, Memorial Hall is more than construction material combined. It is also a 
representation of memories from former soldiers. Fortunately, people in the late 
nineteenth century had patriotic feelings and they decided to build the monument. Had 
they not chosen to construct it, we would not be able to enjoy these living memories 

"20 groups use Memorial Hall." Rockfordiana Files . 29 Oct. 1950. 
"About Memorial Hall." Handout. Rockford Area Convention &amp; Visitors Bureau . 
Barnard, Judith. Personal interview. October 2001. 
Bruening, Jeff. E-mail interview. 13 Oct. 2001. 
"Flags Everywhere." Rockfordiana Files no date. 
Jurasek, Mindy. Personal interview. Oct. 2001. 
Snyder, William J. "Birth of a City" Sinnissippi Saga: A History of Rockford and 

Winnebago County . Nelson, ed. Illinois. Rockford. 
Memorial Hall Winnebago County Fact Sheet. 1999. 

Pedriana-Gustafson Architects. Photos of Memorial Hall. Rockford, II. Oct. 2001 
Rounds, Murray. Personal letter. Rockford, II. Oct. 2001. 
"Veterans." Rockfordiana Files. No date. 




Xfc, n ^Qa^^u^^^U.u f^W^tk &gt;^w (M?^u\^^s^,, Ha* 

Memorial Hall - Auditorium 

Rockford, Illinois 

Before Renovation 

Pedriana ■ Gustafson 


C^Ulx, ru-rcov*t** 

£pU In 4JUs Wo^v 3^h o^ lA^xjr^l \J^Ou\ l J ~fa- O^J. Of^ ffrAjwd* 

Memorial Hall - Lower Lobby 

Rockford, Illinois 

After Renovation 

Pedriana ■ Gustafson 


With a Small Beginning, the Rise of On the 


Mike Marinelli 

Fall Semester 

Rock Valley College 

English Composition 1 


About seventeen years ago, a man named Fred Wright brought On the Waterfront 
to Rockford with the help of others. Since August 21,1 984, On the Waterfront has only 
risen with success. 

The mission of On the Waterfront, Inc., is to be a professional organization 
supporting not-for-profit entities and local businesses, and enhancing the image of the 
community, primarily by producing a quality regional street festival, offering a total 
entertainment experience for a diverse audience, in Rockford 1 s downtown River District 
(On the Waterfront). This author feels that the organizers have done this very well. 

The start of On the Waterfront was unique in its own way. Mayor John 
MacNemere proposed the idea of a birthday celebration for Rockford's 150 lh birthday. 
The mayor contacted Carol Pollack, an associate at the Metro Centre, and suggested the 
idea to her. She said that with the assistance of others, it could be done. The 
sesquicentennial of Rockford had a party coming, and many were involved in the 
development (Interview). 

In 1984, Waterfront was held in a single square block, and a bank plaza. 
Waterfront began in just a little parking lot where the State of Illinois Club now resides. 
They also used a small part of the bank plaza across the street. The block had enough 
room for one stage, multiple food tents, a carnival, and a center tent to mingle (Wright). 

Now although the festival began as just one block, it has escalated into thirty citj 

After Mayor MacNemere's call to Carol Pollack, she obtained the help of some- 
good people. Her first call was to a man named Fred Wright. Me was a friend and a 
coworker that she trusted. Fred took care of all of the paper work, the organization of the 
festival, and set the wheels in motion. Along with Fred, came John Nolte. John owned 
WROK, and took care of the entertainment. Other significant individuals are: Sharon 
Dipple for food, Anne Stiffler and Tracy Healy for marketing and Sarah Wolfe handled 
the ethnicities of the festival (Wright). 

Fortunately for Carol, and others, there were no real problems along the wa&gt; . 
Commonwealth Edison helped by donating the power, and a few plug boards to the 
festival. Certain parts of Rockford Blacktop helped as well with donations. The festival 
was set underway at the corner of Wyman and Elm Street, and has been there ever since. 

Though no major construction was done, it still took time to arrange. Sharon 
Dipple contacted local food organizations and asked them for their support for the party. 
These food organizations included many different ethnicities; anywhere from hot dogs to 
Japanese food. However, even though they had what seemed everything- crew, food, 
drinks, and a concept- what about money? The Rockford City Council donated fifteen 
thousand dollars for the birthday party without any dispute. With the \ er\ first night o\ 
the party, came the first disappointment. A storm had come in and brought bad weather 
with it. It rained all night long. It got so bad that eventually the power was knocked out, 
and everyone was in the dark. Surprisingly, no one left. Everyone huddled under tents 
and kept on partying. Even those that couldn't make it under a tent, still had a beer in 
their hand, and were still happy. 

The money was used for the festival to make a memorable birthday party. Along 
with these results came a decent profit. After figuring out what the profit was, the 
committee offered the original fifteen thousand back to the City Council, i o this ver&gt; 
day, the council will not take the money back (Wright). 

On The Waterfront offers many different things to do; the most obvious being the 

The attractions on stage have escalated greatly throughout the years, starting from 
just one stage to over ten. . Over the years, Waterfront has hosted such legendary acts as 
Peter Frampton, Chubby Checker and the Doobie Brothers. It may seem that it would be 
difficult to obtain these bands, but it is all handled by the programming committee. 
Though these bands bring most of the entertainment, there are still a few smaller 
attractions. The BMX stunt team, fireman's challenge, stiltwalkers, jugglers, and 
mariachi bands also provide entertainment. This writer highly recommends watching the 
fireman's challenge because it shows what these brave people do to save our lives. They 
do many things from the fireman's carry to scaling the hose tower. These attractions are 
spread throughout the festival to entertain people wherever they go. It is because of these 
hard workers that On the Waterfront made it into the Guinness Book of World Records 
with the world's largest birthday party, with 400,000 people in 1998. It is these large 
crowds that make Waterfront offer their seven main stages: Rock, (neat 1 awn. 1 eft 
Bank, Jazz, Oldies, Ethnic and Country (Wright). Now although the) didn't sprout the 
very next year, the gradual change has been for the best. 

Another of Waterfront's big attractions is the food. Imtrees range from Shogun's 
fried rice, to the Boy Scout's Elephant ears. The variety is overwhelming. It's almost 
possible to smell the way to the food one wants. By far, the decision for the most popular 
food is easy. Noah's Arc's pork chop sandwiches are the talk of the town. The butterfly 
porkchops are cooked by the dozen on a large grill. When finally cooked, they are 
sprinkled with an incredibly tasty southern powder. People don't wait in line for just one: 
they usually get a couple. The taste is indescribable, and the line to get one seems 
unthinkable. With all of the other foods, people form a crowd in front of the tent and 
wait as long as it takes to get one, or two. It looks like a mob waiting to catch a glimpse 
of a superstar. People have been known to wait for up to a half-hour for one of these 
sandwiches. This author feels that the half-hour is worth the wait. Other foods include 
fried rice, hot dogs, Swedish meatballs, Papa John's pizza, and much more. All in all. the 
foods satisfy every age, and every ethnicity. 

Although none of this would be possible without the 1500 plus volunteers, a 
couple of bright people came up with the idea to divide the powers and responsibilities of 
the festival. The powers were divided into 9 different committees. These committees 
and their function are: 

Atmosphere and Signage, which handles transforming the 30 city blocks: 

Concessions, all food and beverage activity; 

Finance, all money and accounting situations: 

Marketing, media and advertising; 

Operations, security and technical needs: 

Marinel li-5 
Programming, booking and taking care of performers; 
Special Events, each years different annual event; 
Sponsorship, fund raising and hospitality; 
Volunteer, over 1500, couldn't be done without them; 
(On the Waterfront). 

The efforts of all 1,500 volunteers and every not-for-profit booth make this 
festival a need-to-see event. Everything from the band to the food make Labor Day 
Weekend a well-known weekend for everyone in the state line. 

Works Cited 

On the Waterfront, www. onthewaterfront . com 16 October 2001 . 

Wright, Fred. Phone Interview. 15 September 2001. 

Halstead, Roger. Personal Interview. At Home. 5 November 2001 

Halstead, Liz. Personal Interview. At Home. 5 November 2001 

Rockford Register Star. 2 September 2001. 1 A 

Rockford Register Star. 1 September 2001. 1A 

onds Funeral Home 
Awaits Your Arrival 

Bridget Cole 

Fall Semester 2001 -Rock Valley College 

English Composition I 

Bridget Cole 
English 101 DR1 
16 November 2001 

Final Preparations 

One would say this Black family-owned business got off to a rocky start. Hard work and 
determination is what has kept them going. Carl E. Ponds knew the road ahead would be a 
challenge when he started his funeral home over twenty- five years ago. He did not give in to the 
pressure society put upon him. He fought a good fight and won. This writer is inspired by the 
longevity of Ponds Funeral Home. 

Forty-five years prior to Carl E. Ponds purchasing this building, Swartz Pharmacies sat in 
this very location, 2429 W. State St. This pharmacy stayed in business for twenty-one years. 
From that time, four more drug stores resided in this building. They were short-lived businesses 
compared to Swartz Pharmacy. 

Carl E. Ponds attended Worsham College of Mortuary Science. He continued on to do 
his apprentiship at Rhodes Funeral Home in Chicago, Illinois. This took him one year to 
complete. He commuted from Rockford to Chicago every day, thus showing determination. 
During this time "Carl developed a bond with Mr. Rhodes that would last a lifetime. He looked 
up to him as a father figure" (Stanford Interview). 

After becoming a licensed Mortician/Funeral Director, the headaches began. Carl 
wanted to purchase a building for his funeral home. This was a difficult task, being a young Black 
man determined to have his own business in those days. It seemed it was no problem to den) 
someone because of the color of his skin. People were more outspoken then. The Black race 
today have similar struggles. Things are said and done in a more discrete manner. What is so 


frustrating about this, one is thought to be ignorant and clueless as to what is happening. As a 
Black woman this writer can appreciate honesty. 

Because Carl's cash was limited, it seemed impossible to obtain a bank loan. By his not 
having any collateral did not help the situation. Carl did not allow circumstances to kill his spirit. 
His faith in God became even greater. By his increasing faith, " two masonic brothers co-signed 
loan to get him started " (Ponds Interview). The loan was for twenty-two thousand dollars. He 
was able to pay back this money in three years. He had support from other morticians in the 
community. "Fred Olson (funeral director) gave equipment and sound advice to Carl. Mr. 
Rhodes, his mentor, was kind enough to furnish him with supplies to last a year" ( Stanford 
Interview). This must have been a relief to Carl. He seemed to have landed on his feet. 

"Carl maintained employment at Ingersoll factory in Rockford, Illinois while running his 
funeral business" ( Stanford Interview). This writer is impressed by his hard drive. Carl and his 
wife Rosemary gave back to the community in many ways. Many organizations recognize the 
name "Ponds". This family-owned business has assisted with the Henrietta School Head Start 
Program, the athletic department of the Rockford school system, Washington Park Civic 
Association and many others. 

This funeral director built his business with character and high morals. He was always 
there to serve the public. It did not matter what race, creed, or origin one was. he did not 
discriminate. Ponds Funeral Home received the bulk of the Black business. Occasionally lie 
served a poor Caucasian or Hispanic family. The public knew Carl would set up a payment plan 
for families that did not have insurance, or not enough money. He was a generous and patient 


man. At this most difficult time families want to put loved ones away with dignity. Sometimes 
our money does not allow this to happen. That is when a man like Carl comes into play. 

Carl had a smile that would melt anyone's heart. It would not be assuming too much to 
say that he was a happy family man. "In the year of 1992 he and his wife went on a vacation. 
Carl developed pneumonia during his trip. After returning home to Rockford he was hospitalized 
and never recovered" (Stanford Interview). Carl departed this life leaving a widow and eight 
adult children. 

Rosemary had no interest in becoming a mortician. She did have knowledge of the 
business aspect of the job. Carl's death placed Rosemary in an awkward position. She had to 
hire a licensed embalmer to keep the business going. Their daughter Denita Stanford had always 
promised Dad to continue her education in mortuary science. Even though she enjoyed her 
manager's position at Beef-a-Roo Restaurant for five years she felt compelled to fulfill her 
promise. Danita resigned from her job. She pursued her studies at Worsham College of 
Mortuary Science, located in Wheeling, Illinois. " Much to her surprise Mr. Rhodes* daughter 
was attending school there also" (Stanford Interview). What a coincidence! 

After finishing school and successfully passing the state board exam. Danita was ready to 
take over the business. She never wanted to take her father's place, she only wanted to keep his 
legacy alive. Danita made a great impression on this writer. She has such a pleasant personality 
and the patience of "Job." When some people experience the loss of a loved one. they are rude 
and difficult to deal with. Through Danita's patience she is always able to calm them, and help 
them to refocus. Danita takes pride in her ability to embalm the remains, to last even over a 


week's period of time. Not every mortician does this. This technique is needed when families 
have financial problems or they are waiting for family to arrive from out of town. "If a corpse is 
not properly embalmed, they began to decompose, and also the smell is hideous" ( Stanford 
Interview). Denita is a compassionate person. Her heart goes out to the families that lose 
children to violence, and terminal illnesses. These deaths are more difficult than dying from old 

Danita is concerned about her public image. She is always professional and does a fine job 
keeping her composure. The family name and how they operate their business is an important 
factor to her also. " If a person is applying for work at Ponds or even to do an apprentiship there, 
be prepared for an extensive background check" (Stanford Interview). 

Since the daughter of the late Carl E. Ponds has become the funeral director, some interior 
changes have been made. The bathroom has been remodeled, new carpet laid. etc. One main 
structural change stands out to this writer. A large window that used to be in the front of the 
building had to be covered with siding. This was done because of the numerous drive-by 
shootings that took place in the early 90's. " This change had to be done because of gang 
violence" (Stanford Interview). It is hard to imagine that people have no respect for the deceased 
or loved ones in mourning. Years ago these actions never happened. People just seemed to be 
more respectful of one another. 

Time waits for no one. It has been over sixteen years since Bridget has lived in Rockfbld. 
Ponds Funeral Home continues to carry on business as always. It is amazing through Call's 
difficult time getting started and his untimely death, this family stands united. Danita continues to 


be as supportive as her dad was. She informed this writer to call her if she needs any assistance in 
her studies or any job leads. Bridget Cole is pursuing a career in Funeral services. Three years 
ago she was taking care of her terminally-ill sister, when the light bulb went on. This caused her 
to realize what her calling was in life. When she moved back to Rockford, Illinois a year ago, she 
was impressed that Ponds Funeral Home is still in business. Since then Denita Stanford (Funeral 
Director for Ponds) has offered support to Bridget. This writer appreciated the information 
Danita gave her and the words of encouragement. In conversing with this heart- warming 
individual, it only clarified for this writer to take her place in life. She is now more certain than 
ever, her true destiny is to be a Funeral Director/Mortician. 

Works Cited 

Lewis, Michael. Personal Interview. 12 September 2001 . 

Ponds, Rosemary. Personal Interview. 16 September 2001. 

Rockford City Directory, 1928. Rockford Public Library-Local History Room. 

Rockford City Directory, 1949. RPL-L.H.R. 

Rockford City Directory, 1962. RPL-L.H.R. 

Rockford City Directory, 1964. RPL-L.H.R. 

Rockford City Directory, 1969. RPL-L.H.R. 

Rockford City Directory, 1973. RPL-L.H.R. 

Rockford City Directory, 1974. RPL-L.H.R. 

Rockford City Directory, 1975. RPL-L.H.R. 

Stanford, Denita. Personal Interview. 1 1 October 2001. 

"Started Ponds' Business" Vital Force May 15, 1985. Rockfordiana Files. Rockford Public 

Entrance Requirements . Worsham College Of Mortuary Science. Wheeling. Illinois. No Date. 

The History 

Of the 

Riverside Bridge 

Janis M odica 

Fall Semester 2001 Rock Valley College 

English Composition I 

Janis Modica 
English 101, DT 
20 October 2001 

History Of The Riverside Bridge 

The Riverside Bridge is one of the several that connect the east side to the west side of 
Rockford. Before the bridge was built, the Rock River divided the two towns. Getting 
from one town to another was time consuming and travel was several miles out of one's 
way to reach their destination. The idea and need for the Riverside Bridge was worth all 
the time and effort Mr. Frank Larson put into making this a reality. 

Riverside Bridge's original name was The Rockford Toll Bridge. It is now one of the 
most used bridges in Loves Park. Mr. Frank Larson knew that having the bridge built 
would bring the two cities together and they both would profit from the connection. 
When Mr. Frank Larson first proposed the Rockford Toll Bridge, many opposed the idea. 
Quoted from the Rockford Star, "They told Henry Ford, the Wright Brothers and Frank 
S. Larson it couldn't be done. And all three proved their critics wrong" ( Carey) 

In March 1951, those knowledgeable of bridges and engineering roadways were 
skeptical of the idea of building the bridge. Even the experts wondered how the bridge 
would pay for itself. Bonds were sold and after only twelve years, five months, and 
twenty days, the bridge was paid for well ahead of the initially planned twenty-eight 
years. When the last toll was paid on February 1, 1967, the new bridge became toll free 
( Carey). 

Rockford and Loves Park were divided by the Rock River before the construction 
began about, 1951, before the bridge was built. Both communities on each side of the 
river had distinct neighborhoods. On the west side was Rockford. with large, old trees 

Modica 2 

and houses that were few and far between. For the most part, the west side was 
undeveloped. A narrow road called Page Street, ran through the area where Riverside 
Boulevard now runs (" Fix Pedestrian.."). Loves Park, on the east side, grew bigger every 
day. New businesses were moving into the area, and the ones already there were 
expanding. Many houses were being built along with the rapidly developing business. 
The Meadow-Mart Mall was also in the early stages of construction. 

Before the bridge was built, one had to use State Street Bridge to cross the Rock 
River. This meant a lot of traffic traveling to and from Loves Park to Rockford. 

Loves Park submitted its bridge proposal in March 1953 to the Army Corps of 
Engineers for review. The City began preparation to secure the bridge right of way at 
Riverside Boulevard in hopes of starting construction the following year. On April 15, 
1953, Ernest D. Middaugh and Associates prepared plans, which were approved by the 
city council. At that time, bids were taken by advertising in the local paper. Land was in 
the process of being purchased and right of way access was needed, for the bridge 
construction was set to begin on June 15, 1953. A winning bid of $636,771 was secured 
for the contract. An agreement for the completion date was set for June of 1954. On 
June 21,1954 saw the completion of the project. Cooperative weather and few building 
delays helped make the June completion date possible. To help pay the cost, the New 
Rockford Toll Bridge was financed with 40-year-revenue bonds. Toll bridge fees \\ ere 
collected to pay the revenue bonds (Campbell 89). 

After adding final touches such as streetlights, tollbooths, and flashing red and green 
lights, the tollbooths were opened on August 11, 1954. Without much celebration, the 
grand opening took place at 6:00 a.m. The bridge was now open for business. On 1 abor 

Modica 3 

Day 1954, Loves Park and the surrounding communities celebrated with a ribbon cutting, 
fireworks, dancing, boat races, and a car raffle. The crossing opened a new route, which 
saved the commuters time getting from Loves Park to downtown Rockford. The toll for 
passenger cars was 10-cents, a light-truck with a single axle cost 15-cents, medium trucks 
with dual rear axles were 20-cents, and heavy trucks with three rear axles, as well as 
buses, cost 25-cents. There was also a 5-cent toll for foot pedestrians ( Campbell 89). 

The $1,150,000 dream of Frank Larson had become a reality. Not only did the two 
cities now connect together, they both began to grow and are still growing every year 
since the connection. Soon after completion of the new bridge, the Rockford side 
experienced a large building boom. A multi-million- dollar indoor shopping complex 
that housed more than a dozen stores opened. Residential developments soon began to 
spring up as well. In the year 2001, this area of Rockford has grown with a new upscale 
restaurant and hotel nursing home, grocery store, and many fast food chains. 

Driving east across the bridge, one first notices the large sign welcoming people to 
Loves Park. Many people are too busy to notice the peeling paint on the railings of the 
bridge also, the new "no walking on the bridge signs". Loves Park has grown in 
population and over the years has seen many changes. Martin Park has recently been 
given a face- lift, with new playground equipment, park benches, and new landscaping. 
Perhaps the biggest change is the new footbridge. This project was completed in 
the year 2000. Next to the vehicle bridge, a massive footbridge expands the entire \\ idth 
of the river. The new, wide, rusty, bridge, is for the walkers, runners, and bicycles; 
whatever the pedestrian chooses can cross safely. The footbridge has two wide walkout 
areas for one to view the river and all the surroundings. The footbridge was completed 

Modica 4 

with park benches, new landscape of several trees and plants. Loves Park also erected a 
large new wood sign between the footbridge and Riverside Bridge that reads 'Thanks for 
Visiting Loves Park" when they are heading west, and "Welcoming them to Loves Park'' 
when traveling east into the park. 

Riverside Bridge has had many positive effects. Mr. Frank Larson's forward thinking 
can be credited with many of these effects. Getting to one destination is a quick and safe 
journey, thanks to the Riverside Bridge. 

Works Cited 

Campbell, Craig G History Of Loves Park, Illinois 

1998. Volume 1:83-84 8 
"Fix Pedestrian Toll On Bridge" Adopt Schedule Rockford Star, 

Rockford Files Rockford Library. 04-21-53. 

Carey, Kit "Frank Larson Said It Could Be Done" Rockford Star, 

Rockford Files Rockford Library. 07-27-60. 
"Stream Of Dimes Dries Up In Loves Park" Rockford Star, 

Rockford Files, Rockford Library. 1 -29-67. 
James, F. Fred BOOM AREA- The Greater Rockford toll Bridge, Site for the 

New multi-million dollar shopping center and residential development 

Rockford Star , Rockford Files, Rockford Library 06-21-54. 
James, F. Fred The newly completed toll house.... Rockford Star , Rockford Files, 

Library. 06-21-54. 
Modica, S. Janis Most recent photo of Riverside Bridge, taken from the east, Loves 

Park 10-31-01. 
Modica, S. Janis Most Recent photo New Footbridge and surroundings. . . 




MgVt foreground ta Lora^rk. In th., ,.«B»j US&amp;^' 

■■'; %SS 

The nearly completed toll house ftt the 
east, or Loves Park, end of the bridge is 
shown in t he pho to above. Automobiles 

will pass under the C 
use the outside lar 
does not cover. 

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OcHbu 3\,Z*ool - VJVtw cP new f*,4 w,. &gt;« &lt;A 

( flk* ^*) \; -S ^C&lt;t 

The Birth Of 



Debra Coleman 

Fall Semester 2002 - Rock Valley College 

English Composition I 

Debra Coleman 
English 101, DT2 
11 December 2001 

The Birthing Of Rockford College 

If the social, familial and educational relationships of twentieth-century 
man are guided by what they believe to be the economic facts of his life, those 
same relationships for the New England Puritan and his Congregationalist child 
were completely colored by his religion. (Asprooth 7; Nelson 37) 
One of the most active forces in the development of civilization in America in the 1 800s. 
was the American Home Missionary Society, there was a calling from the Wild West for 
missionaries to spread the word of God. Answering the call, Reverend Aratus Kent started his 
forty years of service in northern Illinois (Nelson 31). 

In April of 1829 Kent arrived in Galena. "He established the First Presbyterian Church of 
Galena on October 23, 1831" (Asprooth 43: Nelson 31). As well as teaching school in Galena, he 
also, took care of the religious needs of the nearby settlements. This growing interest in 
educational matters led to his contribution in the turn of events that led to the establishment of 
Rockford College here. 

Discussion among religious leaders with considering the needs of the region for 
institutions of higher education commenced as early as 1843. A meeting was held in Cleveland, 
Ohio, in 1844. A decision was made to establish a college and a female seminary in southern 
Wisconsin and northern Illinois (Nelson 31). 

Four more meetings were held in Beloit, this was the choice for the site of a men's 
college. At the fourth meeting in October 1845, Beloit was formally recorded as the location of 
the men's college. A board of trustees, together with Aratus Kent and Rockton resident Wait 
Talcott, was selected and put in charge of establishing both sites. "The governor of Wisconsin 
approved the charter for Beloit College on February 2, 1846" (Nelson 32; Townsend 35). 

The location of the female seminary was not as easily settled. A committee of the Beloit 
College Board of Trustees was appointed to investigate possible sites. Although Rockford was 
initially favored, financial considerations were left open to bids from other locations (Nelson 32). 

On October 21, 1845, in the minutes of the committee meeting there were several 
possibilities mentioned. Two such bids came from Stephen Mack, the founder of Rockton. He 
proposed a twenty-acre site and another offer often acres and to pay $3,000 in four equal 
payments to go into the building. There were verbal statements from Belvidere, Elgin. Rockford 
and Freeport that it was the intention of the people in these places to make propositions, but they 
were not yet prepared (Nelson 33; Townsend 37). 

It was not until 1847 that the Illinois State Legislature granted Rockford Seminary its 
charter and included the right to grant a B.A. degree (Nelson 67; Townsend 37). "After granting 
the charter, nothing further was done for almost two years. At this crucial point in time. 
Rockford Female Seminary might have become simply another paper institution that never 
materialized. This was a common occurrence" (Townsend 37). 

One member of the committee was working quietly, yet determinedly, toward the location 
of the seminary in Rockford. Reverend Joseph Emerson, a preacher who arrived in Beloit in 1 S4S 
to serve as a professor at the college, became involved immediately with the seminary plans 

(Townsend 64). "He desired that the committee locate the seminary in Rockford. This was based 
on a hope to avoid rivalries between villages, rivalries that would undo the work of religious and 
educational leaders in trying to unite the region" (Nelson 33). 

Unfortunately, the economy plunged downward during the winter and spring of 1 848 - 
1 849. Also, during this time Rockford was suffering through a "sickly season" and in three or 
four months there were fifty funerals (Townsend 38). Other things happened and affected the 
businesses of Rockford, preventing the fulfillment of the original pledges towards the location of 
the seminary, postponing the project. The report of the committee on the location of the seminary 
dated 1850, states "that in view of the embarrassments [unfulfilled pledges] in which the trustees 
were recently involved by past occurrences," they would proceed cautiously with financial 
proposals received from villages. The bids from Freeport, Rockton and Rockford, were almost 
equal in amount. The committee, however, didn't feel save enough with these presentations to 
favor one site over the others. 

It is legend that, at a critical moment during these discussions, two 
trustees, Charles H. Spafford, Eleazer H. Potter and a third man, Dr. Lucius Clark, 
mortgaged their homes and raised several thousands of dollars to insure the 
success of the seminary and also to insure its location in Rockford. Letters 
indicate the amount raised brought the total subscriptions to $10,000. Although 
records of Spafford and Potter, both of whom served and treasurers of the 
seminary, show loans, there is no direct evidence to prove the three men 
mortgaged their homes. Their actions did provide a catalyst for the stalemate by 
the committee, and settled the question of the location for the seminary (Nelson 34V 

In the first twenty-one years of the town's history, sixty teachers had come and gone. 
Even though some of them had been successful, none had remained for long. What Rockford 
parents wanted was a good school that would continue year after year (Townsend 43 j. "They 
couldn't have known that of all the schools founded in Rockford before 1855, only "Miss Sill's 
school" would survive" (Nelson 42; Townsend 44). 

In May 1848, the women of the First Congregational Church of Rockford spread the news 
that two lady teachers from the East were on their way to Rockford to establish a school 
"exclusively for young ladies." For four years, the women of the church had listened to more than 
enough talking about the female seminary, but so far nothing concrete had been done. At present. 
their daughters were growing up without the benefit of a good education. The pastor of the 
church, Reverend L.H. Loss, and other influential men of the town had formed a temporary board 
of trustees for a local seminary. "They knew that Anna Sill was willing to start a school "on her 
own responsibility" (without wages or promise of students), she had an excellent reputation as a 
teacher and that she had run her own female seminary in New York" (41). There was never a 
guarantee that she would be the principal (Nelson 41). 

In May 1848, a New England schoolteacher, Anna Peck Sill, another protege of American 
Home Missionary Society, arrived in Rockford. "In an advertisement placed in the Rockford 
newspapers, she announced her intentions to open a preparatory school, under the name of 
Rockford Female Seminary" (Nelson 34). 

To understand Anna Peck Sill, one must be familiar with her background. Relationship to 
her ancestors, and to her contemporaries was a tribal one. "Each individual owed allegiance to 
the group and transgressors against the lv tribe of Christians" received public examination and 

punishment in order that the group itself might not be identified with their sins." (Nelson 38) 
There are echoes of this Puritan practice in Miss Sill's public scholastic examinations and in her 
weekly chapel sessions in which girls (after having kept daily records) publicly examined their 
behavior and their thoughts. 

Many other features of the Puritan character appear, clearly, in Anna Sill: "her own rigid 
self-denial and her insistence on a simple life for Rockford girls; her firm restriction of recreation: 
her maintenance of a sober demeanor, especially in public moments ("Young ladies, cultivate 
repose"); her unremitting desire to excel in the eyes of God and man" (38). Seldom has a woman 
lived with a firmer sense of dedication. When she came to Rockford in 1 848, it was to achieve a 
goal as exciting and as sacred as the goal, which led her ancestors John and Joanna Sill, who 
revealed the family adventurousness when in 1637 they emigrated from England to Cambridge. 
Massachusetts (Townsend 2; Nelson 38; Asprooth 7). 

Anna Sill never doubted her school would be a success. Even though the town or final 
site had not yet been chosen for the Seminary, it was God who had sent her to Rockford and he 
would uphold her. It only remained for everyone else to be convinced (Nelson 41 : Townsend 42). 

On May 29,1849 she wrote in her journal: "Sent my advertisement to the press. My 
success is yet to be known, for my times are in the hands of the Lord." I trust I am prepared for 
whatever cup He in His all-wise providence may mingle." She was certain the Beloit Board of 
Trustees would approve her; Sill boldly advertised her school under the name they had selected 
for their school: Rockford Female Seminary. She called her school a 'yjermanent institution, one 
in which the public may safely rely for the complete English and Classical Education of Young 
ladies (Asprooth 13; Nelson 41 ; Townsend 42)." 

Settling into Judge Church's household, Miss Sill went to work preparing the courthouse 
for instruction. Also, working out teaching arrangements with Eliza and Hannah Richards and 
calling on the families of her prospective students. Sill's companion upon arrival was Hannah 
Richards who was to have charge of the younger girls (Townsend 43). 

On June 1 1, 1849 Anna Sill and her assistants walked from Judge Church's home to the 
old courthouse building on North First Street (Townsend 44). On the grass stood some of the 
seventy children, most were under ten, in attendance on the first day (Nelson 42; Asprooth 1 3). 
After taking attendance, Sill explained that she had come from the East in order 
"to establish a school in the wild northwest." (Nelson 42; Townsend 44) 

Miss Sill gathered support, both financially and spiritually. Playing her part, Sill was 
patiently waiting, for the official wheels to be set in motion. She was certain this school would 
become an institution of higher learning, "not another school for little children" (Asprooth 1 4: 
Nelson 34) 

It was not easy to hold school in the old courthouse. The seats were "low and uncouth 
affairs," and the summer sun streamed relentlessly through undraped windows. A local 
newspaper reported that 102 students were present on the day he visited. Some were young 
women in their twenties who had heard of the school and either taught or borrowed money to 
attend. Sill's older sister, Mrs. Helen Hollister, came to run the boarding house across the street 
from the courthouse, to provide students from different areas, a place to stay. (Asprooth 1 3; 
Townsend 45). "With the boarding funds. Sill "improved the school room, bought the books 
needed, placed curtains in the windows and prevailed upon the scholars to supply desks" 
(Asprooth 13; Townsend 46). 

Yet, even more young women came. Since the boarding house could only house sixteen 
to twenty people, some students boarded with families. 

Conditions in the boarding house were primitive. Students shared space with three to 
seven others, crowding into rooms thirteen by fifteen feet. Each night they set up cots and 
stored them in the daytime. They carried wood for old sheet-iron drums that stood in 
each room, built their own fires and cooked their own meals. In winter, the halls and 
rooms were so cold that water froze in the wash pans. At night students would read by 
candlelight. An alumna commented many years later, "We certainly had to endure 
hardships, but life has been easier for us ever since on account of the discipline'* (46). 
First, Anna Sill sought to develop "a moral and religious character in accordance with 
right principles" in each of her students. Just as her Puritan ancestors had settled in the New 
World and established New England colleges "for the glory of God and the advancement of the 
Christian Faith," so Anna Sill came west, as she wrote in her journal, "to glorify God and save 
Humanity" (Townsend 47). 

Second, Sill tried to inspire in her students "missionary spirit, or a spirit of self-denying 
benevolence toward all." She believed the Christian life is one of service, "not to acquire the most 
good, but to give oneself' for the good of others (47). By 1884, there were forty Rockford 
Seminary representatives ministering both in America and around the world (48). 

Third, Sill preferred to prepare women for duties of the home. Unlike Man Lyon and 
Zilpah Grant Banister, their seminaries were designed mainly to educate teachers. Sill stressed the 
requirement of educating women for domestic duties: 

Women's sphere is in the home-circle, truly, primarily so and that is why 1 ha\e her 

educated, for this her heaven-appointed orbit, that she may be qualified to perform the 
duties and meet the responsibilities of this sphere.... How few realize the extent of the 
molding influence of a mother upon the maturing character! (49) 
That women should be educated for their "proper sphere" was an argument used against, 
as well as for, higher female education. When the first students began, Sill was warned, "These 
young ladies would not teach, that they would be married, and it would all be lost." Like other 
female educators, Sill argued that a woman's duties required the highest intellectual, moral and 
domestic development, which only an elevated educational institution could provide. Education 
for domesticity was the aim at most female institutions (49). 

Sill's aims have been said to oppress women, but in reality Sill had both traditional 
and feminist values. She believed that woman was created, not merely to be man's 
assistant, but to win society for Jesus Christ. She said that woman's influence on society 
was greater than man's. She applauded when her students entered the professions. In 
1884, she proudly told the alumni that seminary graduates were serving in the medical 
profession, in "literary circles," art, science and "moral enterprises" (50). 
Fourth, Sill sought to educate "the poorer and less favored classes of young women, thus 
far excluded from the higher education." Anna Sill made special efforts to help poor women. 
Her believes were just because a woman was poor she should not have to receive a lesser 
education. She continually insisted on lower fees because she believed that education belonged to 
all people, not just to the wealthy" (51). 

Finally, the day of decision came, September 18, 1850. The board members arrived and 
took into their places. To Aratus Kent, Joseph Emerson, A.L. Chapin. and the other ministers. 

this was no regular meeting. It was an opportunity to do God's will. They probably prayed more 
obsessively than usual. The votes were counted and Rockford had won by a thin margin. So, 
Rockford was decided on as the site for the seminary (Asprooth 1 5; Nelson 34; Townsend 61). 
The next day, the Rockford Female Seminary Board of Trustees convened for the first time. They 
elected Aratus Kent president, Thomas D. Robertson secretary and Asa Crosby treasurer. They 
also elected an executive committee to handle day-to-day matters. They adopted the charter of 
Rockford Female Seminary and began making definite plans about the collection of pledges. 
purchase of property and design of buildings (68). 

By Christmas of 1850, the board of trustees had decided on five principles to govern the 
"establishing and organizing of the seminary" (71). In many ways these principles paralleled with 
those of Beloit College. The board believed that the sexes had different natures and roles. At this 
time, women are thought to be essentially more devout than men. After all women far 
outnumbered men in churches and benevolent societies as they had since the Great Awakening. 

First, to insure their appropriate religious and moral development, seminary women are 
required to live in the dormitory where they were closely supervised. Students publicly confessed 
their sins and attended two daily chapel services. There were voluntary prayer meetings, a daily 
half hour of devotional time, daily Bible memory verses, Sunday school and church senices and 
private talks with the principal. There were also annual revivals, at which time all classes were 
suspended and entire days were devoted to evangelistic sermons, prayers and songs. These 
activities were designed to produce ideal seminary graduates: "Noble. Christian women, with 
cultivated minds, pure hearts, refined manners and an enlarged view of Christian benevolence and 
personal usefulness." Such graduates would fit the Victorian ideal of "True Women" (72). 

Second, both institutions are to set academic standards "at the highest practical point." 
For the college, this meant a more rigid program to develop mental discipline. The four-year 
collegiate course of study was arranged because the student's possible "weak side" might not be 
correctly strengthened if he were allowed to choose his subjects. (73) 

The seminary was supposed to be the equal of the college. From the beginning its most 
advanced course was called "collegiate." The women and the men are to have many of the same 
subjects so that they would develop all their mental capacities "in a balanced proportion." 
However, lessons are to be given "in due proportion for imparting those accomplishments which 
adorn and grace the female mind." This phrase means that the three-year seminary course was 
less rigid than the men's collegiate course. For men, intelligence was essential; for women, it was 
merely decorative (73). 

The third principle governing the seminary was training "for domestic duties." To 
promote this training, students were encouraged to live in the dormitory where they performed 
"domestic service... under a regular system." At this time it was believed that women should 
never take leadership roles in society, with the possible exception of teaching small children. Men 
moved freely between home and society. Women were told to stay in their "appropriate 
sphere. . .in the midst of a quiet home." Women were never to command public attention: they 
were to remain in the background (74). 

The fourth principle governing the organization of the seminary was economic. To make 
the institution accessible even to the poor, expenses were reduced to the "lowest point compatible 
with the maintenance of its elevated character." This aim was more prominent at the seminan 
than at Beloit College (75). 

A college degree represented intelligence and authority, so-called masculine traits. This 
is why the 1 854 student editors of The Beloit College Monthly considered it "extraordinary" that 
women at Lawrence University at Appleton, Wisconsin, received the L.B.A. [Lady Bachelor of 
Arts] degree when they graduated. The editors commented: "We commend the institution to all 
ladies wishing to extend the 'sphere' of their 'rights' into the balmy regions of BachelordorrL" At 
Rockford Female Seminary, graduates received a seminary certificate (76). 

The fifth principle concerned administration. The board of trustees appointed the Beloit 
College president. His power over the institution was enhanced considerably by his additional 
position as president of the board. He and his faculty were responsible for instruction and 
governance. Although the seminary charter provided for the appointment of a president, (76) Sill 
was a woman, so she could have only the title of principal. Neither she nor her teachers could sit 
on the board because they were women (77). 

Their last item of business concerned the principal of the seminary. They did not elect 
Anna Sill. 

From that September, until July 15,1852, Anna Sill waited for her principal's role to 
become official (Asprooth 16; Nelson 44; Townsend 81). Throughout this time she had to 
wonder if she ultimately would ever finally have it. She realized that without a board, her efforts 
would be restricted to one town and perhaps one generation. Still it was hard to give up authority 
and even more infuriating was to have it lessened by men who felt superior. She probably also 
realized that it was not "Miss Sill's School" the board planned to support, but one of their own 
conception. Anna Sill would do until they could find someone better. They tried numerous times 
and failed, the problem was that they could not find anyone better, the tact she was a female is 

what stood in the way for some of the trustees (Townsend 69). In 1851, the board as ; lhe 
Preparatory Department of the Rockford Female Seminary" formally adopted her school (Nelson 
44; Townsend 79). The first "collegiate class" of fifteen women entered in September, 1 85 1 , 
after examination had verified the capability of each student, to pursue three years of mental and 
moral philosophy, natural science, ancient and modern languages and other ornamental subjects 
offered by the best eastern seminaries. This became the year in which the seminary met the hopes 
of its founders and the year in which Rockford College began its history (Nelson 44; Townsend 

A wooded eight-acre site overlooking Rock River's east bank was purchased from Buell 
G. Wheeler for the seminary's new home. The original pledge was $1000 to purchase the land 
but it was offered for only $550. Rockford ladies went without new bonnets, their daughters went 
without new dresses and the women did a lot of fund-raising to come up with the cost of the land. 
(Nelson 44; Townsend 71). The cornerstone of the first building was laid by the Reverend Aratus 
Kent, president of the Board of Trustees, on July 15, 1852 (Nelson 34; Townsend 79). 

In colleges and female seminaries the popular teaching methods were recitation and 
lecture. This practice had come from earlier European ancestry. A student would be given a 
portion of a textbook, previous lecture or scientific demonstration. Frequently the tutor would 
draw names at random, call on a student, ask specific questions and expect the student to answer 

The most common disapproval of women's schools was that the students learned onl\ to 
mimic information (Townsend 56). In the beginning years this was not said about Anna Sill's 
seminary, she expected her students to work hard. 

Sills students created abstracts and essays, gave public readings, corrected grammatical 
errors on paper and in their speech, and memorized daily Bible verses. The thoroughness was 
recognized by the first examining committee, which remarked that the students "had performed an 
unusual amount of hard labor in study, under judicious and energetic training" (Townsend 57). 

Although the press highly praised the seminary in general calling it the "honor of the 
village"-some of Sill's methods were not agree with. "An early Rockford resident recalled many 
years later that he had heard that when Sill addressed the school, the girls were required to sit 
with their arms behind their backs and to lean forward "until their foreheads rested upon the desk 
in front. This attitude corresponded to the soldier's attention." (57) The same man remembered 
hearing that: 

On Monday morning at roll call each girl was to rise in her place and tell whether 
she had attended church services the day before, and where. If she had not. it was 
expected that she would give a good and sufficient excuse for her neglect of duty. 
So great was the influence, which this remarkable lady exercised over her pupils 
that nothing less than severe illness could keep them from attending church on 
Sunday morning (58). 
This story could be true, in later years Sill required each student to stand at Sunday dinner 
and give a summation of the sermon heard that morning. Most colleges and seminaries of this 
period required students to attend daily chapel and Sunday worship services, but it is doubtful that 
their students had to prove they had paid attention as exactly as the Rockford seminarians were 
expected to do. 

Similar to her grandfather Peck, Sill was said to yield an "indomitable will." and at times 

she used extreme measures to control student behavior. Those with a lot of spirit were likely to 
rebel. It was said, for example, that all Sill's students faithfully attended church services, except 

This independent young lady always replied to the usual Monday morning query 
with a sturdy "No" that made the cold chills run up and down the spinal columns 
of the other girls. And when interrogated as to the reason for her delinquency she 
invariably responded that she thought she would rather sleep. ... In church-going 
Rockford, it was little less than heresy and it argues well for the attractiveness of 
the young lady that she was not entirely ostracized by the other pupils of the 
In later years another strong-willed student named Jane Addams refused to give in to Sill's 
influence (58). 

The missionary boards liked to send out their emissaries married rather than single: 
and it was often true that hasty weddings were arranged for those under new appointment. 
based more on a similarity of intentions than on personal feeling or established 
acquaintance. Beloit had a theological school from which many young missionaries went 
forth and Miss Sill had done her share in supplying able and eligible candidates for such 
marriages. She readily encouraged the romances that sprang up as a result of the \ isits 
and small excursions allowed at the school, seeing them as steps in fulfillment of her own 
earnest plans. In Jane Addam's time, six Rockford Seminary girls married missionar\ 
candidates from Beloit. 
It was obvious that Miss Sill's trained eye would perceive at once that young Jane 

Addams was a person of unusual worth and strength of character, just such a student as she 
would choose to enlist in her missionary plans. But Jane resisted. She was considered to be one 
of the "unconverted" girls of the school (Asprooth 19; Nelson 59) 

"We were the subject of prayer at the daily chapel exercise and the weekly prayer meeting, 
attendance upon which was obligatory," Jane says in her reminiscences (Townsend 59). "The 
definite, conscious experience of conversion was something upon which certain people in certain 
denominations very earnestly relied. Jane had never had it, nor learned to look for it." She had 
never officially joined any organized church or been baptized. Jane's father was essentially a 
Quaker like his ancestors and her thoughts and ideas, were essentially the same. Since baptism is 
not included in Quakers religious proceedings, Jane had not been. Miss Sill, set herself to remed&gt; 
what she considered an oversight and a mistake. 

This was a difficult period of time for Jane. To hear oneself prayed for daily, even while 
not by name, before all of one's friends, is not a happy feeling. Members of the faculty, give 
support to Miss Sill's attempts by persuasions of their own. One of the younger faculty members. 
that Jane was very fond of, was particularly pressuring, much to Jane's distress. 

She knew that she was not suited for missionary work, that she was too unorthodox in her 
beliefs. She did not have the health that a missionary's wife needed for such a rugged life 
(Asprooth 19; Nelson 59). 

Even though, the weeks of "evangelical pressures" that Miss Sill and the others, with 
good intentions had used on Jane, she stood her ground. It was a brutal ordeal, holding so 
determinedly to her own belief and her own integrity; it saddened and upset her and made her 
uncertain of herself for some time to come. But what she learned from this was possibly more 

valuable than anything else that she gained from Rockford Seminary (Nelson 60 j. 

In the spring of 1853, the boarding house had to be vacated even though the new 
seminary building was not yet completed. Students and teachers carted their belongings to 
two separate dwellings further from the old courthouse. This dislocation became too 
much for Harriet Stewart. Her health began to fail and, as the year came to a close, Dr. 
Lucius Clark, the trustee who served as the seminary's physician, warned that she should 
return to New York. Thus, in spite of Anna Sill, "the noblest women" she ever knew, in 
spite of "a choice band of teachers" and "the grandest set of boarders and pupils" she had 
ever met, Harriet Stewart packed her bags and went home. Later she wrote. "I left 
Rockford with many regrets and although the year had been by far the most laborious of 
my life, yet it had always been recalled as perhaps the most useful of my "Teacher Life"* 
(Townsend 85). 

The frequent turnover of teachers at the seminary was a nagging problem. In an 
age before antibiotics, sickness and premature death were frequent consequences of 
teaching or administering such institutions. Mary Lyon died suddenly in 1 849 at age fifty- 
two. Her friend, Zilpah Grant Banister, was habitually ill. Catharine Beecher's poor 
health forced her to give up her post at Hartford Seminary. Numerous administrative and 
domestic responsibilities, scanty food, crowded classrooms, meager salaries, communin 
service - these factors combined to sap the energy of even the hardiest woman (and of 
some men). For several years Anna Sill seemed invincible. One observer noted that the 
more responsibilities she took on, the "greater" her "facility and success" in performing 
them (86). 

In the fall 1 853 school opened in Chapel Hall, later on in 1 866 it is renamed Middle Hall 
(Nelson 48; Townsend 139). The new building was a definite improvement, but it was far from 
luxurious. When the students arrived they found carpenters' benches in the hall and a parlor 
without furniture. The rooms were uncarpeted. The windows lacked blinds or shades and 

were " neatly draped with newspapers or shawls." Each room had two double beds, which were 
shared by four students and sometimes a teacher. Kitchen dishes were "browned and 
nicked." In winter the halls were always cold. The little cast iron box stoves in each room 
barely kept the students warm, and no wood could be added after eight in the evening 
because of the threat of fire. There was frequent smoke, if not from the chimneys, then 
from the oil lamps that provided light for study (Townsend 86). 

Chapel Hall at this time was crowded. There were eighty boarders in the building 
and a hundred others had been turned away. Seven girls, the youngest girl slept in a trundle bed. 
shared one room, in 1854. The principal herself slept with three other teachers next door to the 
room where piano practice began at six o'clock in the morning. In such close quarters, both mind 
and body suffered and illnesses ranged from smallpox to "spasms" to hysteria, which was treated 
with henbane (Nelson 46; Townsend 87). There was so little privacy that Lucy Jones, a teacher 
who shared a room with Anna Sill and two others, used to hide in a closet under the stairs. Many 
years later she said: 

This [closet] was my plan of retirement, my refuge in joy and in sorrow and 
sometimes my resting place when I was so tired that even the faces of the dear 
souls about me wearied me. Though light was shut out. sound was not. and 1 
recalled many of those resting times when I sat still, without compunction, and 

hear the question, "Can you tell me where Miss Jones is?' (Townsend 87) 

In spite of the intense struggle for financial survival, Anna Sill continued to teach as many 
classes as her teachers, make ends meet, work in the church, plan the curriculum, discipline 
students and lead chapel services every morning and evening. When she was exhausted or feeling 
ill, she spent a day or so at her sister's, Helen Hollister who ran the boarding house. She always 
took along her unanswered correspondence. Eventually, all these responsibilities began to take 
their toll (88). 

In fall of 1856, the board of trustees hired Hope Brown. His job was to "exercise a 
general stewardship of the grounds, building and family" for a wage of $700 a year. Anna Sill's 
yearly wage was still $300, that of her teachers $200, and this would remain that way for ten 
years (Nelson 46; Townsend 128). 

No longer would the principal's voice be quite so autocratic. After 1857. many decisions 
formerly made by Anna Sill alone were submitted to a vote at faculty meetings. In that year, the 
trustees instituted a set of by-laws which clearly reserved administrative duties for the board, 
formalized the system of examining committees and assigned the faculty to "instruct pupils" in the 
academic subjects, to "exercise thorough and parental supervision of habits and department 
(Townsend 129; Nelson 46)." 

Anna Sill is often accused of being anachronistic. In her wish to see Rockford maintain its 
pioneer status in women's education, she most certainly was not. Throughout the 1 870s she 
participated in strengthening and modernizing the curriculum. She pressed for a formal, legal 
establishment of Rockford College in the place of Rockford Seminar)' (Nelson 49: Townsend 

A few days after Rockford's 1877 public examinations, Sill suffered what appeared to be a 
major setback. At the June board of trustees meeting, the committee assigned to looking into the 
legality of changing the seminary's name to Rockford College made their report. One sentence in 
the trustee minutes dismissed all Sills' cherished hopes: "The adverse report of the special 
committee on change of name was adopted." (Townsend 171) 

At the end of June, Anna Sill attended three commencement ceremonies: her own, Beloit*s 
and, on the 29 th , at Rockford's East High School. 

The evening at the high school was not a happy one. She watched the band perform. She 
judged the speeches to be lacking in intellectual direction. There were decorations, a band, a 
greeting, a valedictory address, a class motto-all like the ceremonies of the college and seminary. 
She observed, however, that the high school addresses mentioned neither higher education nor 
advancement in knowledge, for after commencement the graduates were planning to take up their 
life work (Nelson 50; Townsend 171). 

The following day, Sill wrote a long letter to Professor Joseph Emerson. She noted the 
similarities of the three commencement exercises she had attended and pointed out that although 
the seminary students gave "two years more time (and that before our advance),'* they graduated 
with diplomas like those the high school students received: 

I fell to wondering what a diploma meant, what the term college meant, and I 
almost felt like saying, I will ask our trustees to give no more diplomas until the 
word has a definite college meaning, for I hate all sham or pretense. . . (Nelson 50: 
Townsend 171). 
What distressed Sill even more was the way in which the Rockford communit&gt; pooch ed the 


The larger part of these so-called graduates [of the high school] is young girls 
who are made to think their course is better than that of the Seminary. Young ladies come 
here from abroad... hear the taunt "Seminary girls" and sometimes are made to feel that 
there is an unwillingness to even be classed with them in Sabbath School in the same Bible 
class.... I see no remedy now but that the Seminary takes a college rank in form as soon 
as practicable and give degrees as such, asserting full college powers. I care nothing for 
the name college or seminary. I only want the fact. I believe the advance made now is 
well and all I ask. (Nelson 5 1 ; Townsend 1 72) 
As if to prove that she placed the needs of the institution above her own, she asked whether 
perhaps the "remedy" for the problem was a change in administration. To give up her position 
would be a monumental sacrifice, but she was willing if it meant saving the institution from 
decline. She concluded, "All personal considerations should yield to public good." (Nelson 5 1 : 
Townsend 172) 

Anna Sill may have lost a skirmish, but once again her defeat would pave the way for 
greater advancement. The trustees' refusal to change the name of the institution had implied their 
belief that the seminary was not qualified academically to be a college. There were two major 
hindrances to the standard they required: the quality of the faculty and the course of study. For 
several years Sill had demanded more money to attract and keep qualified teachers (Townsend 

After the board authorized a committee to look into a change of name for the institution. 
Sill worked with President Chapin and Wilder Smith to design a truly collegiate curriculum. The 

result, published in the 1876 catalogue, more than ever before resembled the course of study at 
Beloit College (173). 

At last in 1 881, after years of intense struggle, Sill attained a partial victory. At a special 
meeting of the board in June 1 881, the curriculum committee recommended that seminary 
students who completed a three-year preparatory program and any one of three elective courses, 
classical, scientific, or literary, would earn the bachelor's degree (191 ). 

After considering the report of the curriculum committee, the trustees voted to accept 
their recommendation. At long last, seminary women would earn degrees. At last they would 
have a measure of equality with the men of Beloit College. However, the male trustees were not 
yet ready to accept full equality. They would not change the name of the institution to "Rockford 
College" (192). 

Dark clouds hovered on the morning of June 21, 1882 as crowds of people streamed into 
Rockford Female Seminary for its thirty-first annual commencement exercises. At 9:30 the 
student body recited a chant, followed by Professor Joseph Emerson's opening prayer. Then, 
seven young women stepped up on the platform and read their commencement essays. Last. 
came the valedictory address. Arguing in favor of universal education. Miss Kitty Waugh 
explained how education had changed women's position in society. She concluded her address b\ 
saying that she hoped women would soon have the right to vote. Kitty Waugh was one of nine 
students to receive the seminary's first Bachelor of Arts degrees (193). 

Some trustees attending commencement were probably wondering whether kitty \\ augfa 
or any other of these graduates truly deserved bachelor's degrees. Others may ha\ e questioned 
why women even wanted them. Anna Sill did not question. She knew that her students needed 

the best education possible to prepare them for a life of service. The stamp of approval on that 
education was a Bachelor of Arts degree. 

Anna Sill had boldly stormed the ramparts of higher education. Her students won further 
victories. Catherine "Kitty" Waugh (McCullough) passed the Illinois Bar in 1 886, was admitted 
to practice before the Supreme Court of the United States and also served as vice-president and 
legal advisor of the national American Woman Suffrage Association. Another of the first 
graduates, Jane Addams, gained even greater prominence. For her humanitarian and social work 
in the founding of Chicago's Hull House, she received the coveted Nobel Peace Prize in 193 1 

In January 1884, Sill realized that her day was over and she officially resigned. 
Her letter, later published in the local newspapers, requested two things of the trustees: 
that the seminary be kept "in tact as a college for young women," and that the teachers be 
selected not only for their "cultivated intellects" but also for their Christian commitment 
(Townsend 200). 

The board of trustees did not ask Anna Sill to pick a successor. Instead. Joseph 
Emerson asked a recommendation from Eunice Caldwell Cowles, Mary Lyon's first 
assistant principal. Cowles recommended Martha Hillard. a Vassar College graduate. 
That summer President Chapin invited Hillard to visit Rockford (201). 
After she arrived, Mr. And Mrs. Lathrop gave a Sunday night buffet supper for the 
trustees, their wives and husbands, including several women graduates of the seminar) who were 
on the board. The gathering was informal and friendly and Miss Hillard made a favorable 

Miss Hillard visited the seminary the following day. She found the buildings - Chapel. 
Middle and Linden - to be "dignified, well-proportioned, fine and strongly built." Hillard quickly 
won the approval of the board of trustees (Nelson 65; Townsend 202). She was only twenty- 
eight, but she was intelligent, enthusiastic, and tactful (Townsend 202). On August 12. 1 884, she 
was elected principal at a salary of $800 a year (Nelson 66; Townsend 202). 

One of the first priorities for Miss Hillard was to move the school from a system of 
constant espionage to one of trust in the students. Thus, the honor code began at Rockford. The 
faculty was enthusiastic about the new honor code and most of the students proved they were 
worthy of trust. Only two or three girls were dismissed because they were immature and 
irresponsible. The honor code has continued to be important in the academic life of Rockford 
College (Nelson 66). 

One aspect of her first year, which could have been difficult, proved otherwise. Miss Sill 
had been given a home for the rest of her life in a seminary building. 

During the first few weeks of school, Miss Sill stayed away. Upon her return, she proved 
both friendly and kind towards the new principal and her new policies. Miss Hillard in\ited Miss 
Sill to sit at her table for meals and did her best to make her feel at home. Two gracious ladies 
made what could have been a difficult situation seem easy (Nelson 66; Townsend 203). 

The School was in a state of transition - moving from seminar)' to college status. 

Jane Addams was the first student to ask for a college course; she received the first 

Bachelor of Arts degree upon completion of her studies in 1 88 1 . Her action inspired more 

and more students to seek a degree (Nelson 66). 

In 1888, Miss Hillard proposed to the trustees that the seminary course be phased out 

within a fixed period of time and that only a collegiate course be offered. 

Miss Hillard felt there were two other important needs for the students. 

As she explained, "The first was provision for physical education and development; the 
second, opportunity for wholesome intercourse with young men." 

The seminary staff worked to strengthen social ties between the town and the school. 
Groups of students occasionally attended theatrical performances. Senior girls were given the 
privilege of going downtown unchaperoned. In spite of some criticism, the young women proved 
they were mature enough to handle this unprecedented liberty (67). 

In 1884, seminary buildings were heated centrally by steam and lighted by gas. At that 
time the school was thought to have exceptionally fine drainage, with all waste matter carried off 
in pipes to the river (68). 

One of the popular controversies of the times concerned the physical fitness of collegiate 
women (Nelson 68; Townsend 204). Miss Hillard brought the problem before the board and 
proposed that a gymnasium building be built on the campus. 

On June 23, 1 886, the trustees resolved to build a gymnasium. The new building was to 
be called Sill Hall and an appropriate tablet bearing the name would be placed over the front 
entrance. The new Sill Hall housed the music and art departments on the first floor with the 
gymnasium on the second floor (Nelson 68:Townsend 204). 

Miss Hillard was constantly expanding and improving the curriculum. On May 9. 1 885. 
the board agreed to award a music diploma. In 1 888, that award became more specialized when 
the course was expanded to include vocal and instrumental music. 

Miss Hillard began many of the programs that helped to develop Rocktbrd's subsequent 

high scholastic standards. During her tenure as principal, the curriculum was heavy in liberal arts 
in the classical sense. 

In 1887, Miss Hillard proposed to the board that the college award the Master of Arts 
degree to candidates who fulfilled the degree requirements. The proposal was adopted. 

Miss Hillard sowed the seed of academic excellence at Rockford. From the beginning, she 
displayed both humility and self-confidence. Because she believed in Rockford Seminary, she did 
whatever she thought was necessary to improve it. Before Miss Hillard left the seminary, the 
faculty included graduates of Vassar, Smith, Wellesley, Radcliffe and a few from Rockford 
Seminary. To secure instructors with this competence, the new seminary head recommended 
substantial salary increase for all faculty members. 

Phebe SutlifT, whom she had known as an undergraduate, was added to the department of 
history, and in 1896 became president of the college. 

During her third year at the seminary, Miss Hillard had an occasion to go to St. Louis on 
school business. On her return, she decided to stop in Chicago to see Lily and Blanche MacLeish 
whom she had known at Vassar. The girl's, younger half-brother, Bruce, and their widowed 
father entertained Miss Hillard at a family dinner party (Nelson 69). 

Miss Hillard returned to Rockford to prepare for the new term that was to begin just after 
Easter. She later wrote: 

There I was in the midst of the soul-harrowing job of arranging the program for 
the work of the spring term that each girl could have the studies she wished 
without clashing with other classes, when a letter arrived from Mr. MacLeish. 
asking me to become his wife. I had never thought of marriage. The proposition 

seemed to me extraordinary. 

She replied saying that she appreciated the honor, but she enjoyed her work and believed 
the Lord intended that she continue with her duties at the seminary. 

Later, during the summer of 1 887, they were once again together and this time Miss 
Hillard said yes to his proposal. She had already signed a contract for 1 887 - 1 888 school year, 
so they decided not to announce their engagement until the school term was finished. 

A newspaper reporter called on her sister, Emily, a student at the seminary, the secret was 
out. Miss Hillard returned from a business trip wearing her engagement ring. 

After her resignation from her tenure as principal of Rockford Seminary, the Board of 
Trustees elected her a trustee (Nelson 70; Townsend 206). 

By autumn 1 888, the new principal, Anna Gelston, had arrived. An 1 88 1 graduate of the 
University of Michigan, she had taught mathematics at Wellesley College and had studied abroad 
at Oxford (Nelson 71 ; Townsend 206). 

In 1889, Anna Sill became gravely ill of pneumonia. On June 22 illness forced her to her 
room. Quietly, patiently, often drowsing, she lingered for seven days. Early on the morning of 
June 29, students and teachers beginning their school day heard the whispered news. "Miss Sill is 
dead" (Asprooth 27; Townsend 207; Nelson 52). Anna Peck Sill was buried in West Side 
Cemetery in Rockford. Her alumnae raised $1 ,000 for a granite monument over her grave. The 
inscription read: 

Anna Peck Sill 

Founder of 

Rockford College 


August 9, 1816 

June 18, 1889 
(Townsend 207) 

Late in 1889 and in early 1890, an epidemic of influenza swept the nation. Rockford 
Seminary did not escape. At the same time, an outbreak of diphtheria occurred at the seminary. 

Miss Gelston, who had always been of delicate health, fell victim to both of these diseases. 
As a result she was forced to relinquish her post as head of the seminary in June of 1 890. Asked 
years later for information concerning her brief term as head of the seminary, Miss Gelston 
replied: "My two years were marked by no great changes (Nelson 72)." 

When the Board of Trustees received and accepted the resignation of Anna 

Gelston as principal of the seminary, Jane Addams, a member of the board, made the 

motion, seconded by Thomas D. Robertson, that "Sarah F. Anderson be and is requested. 

authorized and empowered to act as and perform the duties of principal until the further 

order of the board of trustees...." (Nelson 73) 

The motion was unanimously approved. And, a year later, in 1 89 1 , the trustees made the 
job permanent, listing her in the catalogue for the 1 891-92 school year as both principal and 
financial secretary. 

Miss Anderson had quite a vantage point from which to direct the institution's affairs. As 
student, as teacher and as financial secretary, she had already been part of the school for 2 1 years. 
"Her services were manifold" (73). 

In 1892, the title of the institution was changed legally from Rockford Seminary, to 

become Rockford College. Miss Anderson was largely responsible for the change in the 
curriculum to a regular college curriculum (74). 

"Miss Anderson was responsible for obtaining more adequate salaries for members of the 
faculty, as well as funds for the purchase of needed books and equipment and repair of the school 
buildings"(77). The result was a marked increase in the number of students. 

In 1892, funds were obtained to finance the construction of Adams Hall. "J.Q. Adams of 
Chicago contributed $25,000 toward the cost. Another new building, Emerson Music House, 
was financed by gifts from two trustees, W.A. Talcott and Ralph Emerson" (78). 

In 1894 Miss Anderson was honored by Beloit College with a Master of Arts degree in 
"recognition of her attainments as a scholar and her work as the head of an institute so closely 
related to Beloit." 

Miss Anderson resigned her post April 14, 1 896, to marry Henry A. Ainsworth. In 
accepting her resignation, the Board of Trustees stated she possessed a "mind well-trained, a 
character exalted and a manner sympathetic and very unselfish." 

Although her resignation became effective the same month that the trustees voted to 
change the name of the head of the college from principal to president, they honored her by gi\ing 
her the title of president. She officially became the first president of Rockford College (78). 

Rockford College remained at its location on College Avenue, until it moved to its current 
location, at 5050 East State Street in 1960. Rockford College owned major interest in 304 acres 
at East State and Alpine (Nelson 169). Later, it was decide that it was impractical to remain 
downtown, they had outgrown the fifteen acres and so, the decision was made to move to East 
State and Alpine to build a new campus (Nelson 1 70). 

All that remains of the old college is what used to be the John Hall Sherratt library 
building, which is now an apartment building and the main part of the Winnebago County Health 
Department on 401 Division Street. 

On February 27, 1955 the Board of Trustees gave their approval to the creation of a 
men's college (Nelson 164). The women's college with its previous traditions and honorable 
history would not change (165). There was some controversy, because they wanted to become 
coeducational, some of the trustees were so angry about it that they resigned (Nelson 171). 

On April 30, 1960, John A. Howard, gave his inaugural address as the twelfth president of 
Rockford College. 

This was the beginning of a new era, exchanging the 1 13-year-old institution campus with 
a men's college and a women's college, to a new twenty-million dollar campus with a co- 
educational college (173). 

Sources Consulted 

Asprooth, Elizabeth M. A Power Not Of The Present. 

Rockford, Illinois: Published by Rockford College Press. cl973. 
Molyneux, John. Personal interview. 01 October 2001. 
Nelson, Hal C. Rockford College: A Retrospective Look. 

Topeka, Kansas: Josten's/ American Yearbook Company. cl980. 
Townsend, Lucy Forsyth. The Best Helpers Of One Another, 5 th ed. 

Chicago, Illinois: Educational Studies Press. cl988.. 









•* 1 



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Portrait of founder of Rock ford Female Seminary, Anna Peck Sill, as a young woman It graces the president . 

the college 

(Nelson 3*7) 

Principal Anna Peck Sill of Rock ford Female 5&lt; 
middle we. f&gt;l^,\^Ot\ t /6') 




Middle Hall, erected in 1852, was flu- first nuijoi buildii 
on the old nmpus.C/1/lfatigl) 

Jfc.. W 

1 IT 

Middle Hall, erected in 1852, and Linden classrooms, 
erected in 1854, on the old campus. (j\) t\ Son H°) 

Interior of Chapel on old campus where students were 
required to attend daily services. ( r )t\ , z,oN'Ho) 

Sill Hall, left behind fence, combining physical education 
facilities on the second floor with provision for the arts on 
the first floor, was named toi Anna Peck Sill, founder of 
the Rockford female Seminar} In centei ot picture are 
Linden, Middle, and laliott halls while at the right is 
Adams Hall. (&gt;je.\Se&gt;r* N r 


m a pp*n 

Marf/ia Hillard, second principal (pttsident) of Rockford 
Seminary (College), from 1884 to 1883. (NtXvnOS) 

: -. 

Rockford Female Seminary as it appeared in 1887. Left to right, Chapel Hall, erected in 1866, \.iiddl 
1852, and Linden Hall, 1854. (fJtfeetJbb) 


This is the distinguished fac ult\ 01 'Rock ford Female Semi- 
nar) when Martha Hillard (Mrs. Andrew MacLeish) served 
as principal. Lett to right, .it the top, Elizabeth Herrick, 
French; Phehe Sutliff, history (Liter president of the col- 
lege); Mrs. Sarah I Gregory, superintendent ol the do- 
mestic department Elizabeth Eastman, mathematics; Mar- 
tha Hillard, principal Fraulein lohanna Zimmer, French 

.nul &lt; ~,erman, Helen Hillard harmoi i 
piano Bottom ion i u( i \ Bushee l 
Lena ( Leland house ply. sit ian and u 
silences, lessie Spafforci mathematics 
m, es, Olive Rumsc\ i ■■.:' &lt;.h and hist* 


m was tin 

first head of Rot kfo 

d Co . 

II) rece 

ve the tit 

e of president She h 

eaded th 

n from 

1890 to I 

396 (/ve\$tA/i?&gt;) 

President Sarah P. Anoerson is pictured with Rockford 
College faculty for 1890-91 term. She is standing second 
from left, wearing a brooch on her collar Others in the 

picture include lulia Gulliver, who latei became :■■■ 
of the college, and Jessie Spafford, late 

business and club woman. 

Sarah Anderson sc 
following her gradi 

Sarah Anderson was president of R 
this picture was taken in 1896 s/i 
fi &gt; / lent i \ Mnsworth 

kelson nn) 








_ A 

» » 


. &gt; 

'•.?' ■ ♦ 

There was ice skating on a campus rink near Adams hall 
during the winter months, upper photo. Winter scene, 

picturing north side of Talcott, Middle and Linden halls in 

Art studio in Adams Hall, named after }.Q. Adams of Chi- 
cago, who contributed $25,000 toward its cost. It provided 
laboratories and study rooms on the first floor, chemical, 

mineral and biological laboratories on the second and the 

studio on the third. 


Cornerstone of Adams hall was laid in 1891. 

ilelso* 7t&gt; ) 

trfk.* wp - *. 

Horse-drawn carriages were the ma/or means of transpor- streets were often muddy, especially in Spring, 

tation to and from Rockford College in the 1890s. Dirt /fyPlSC/l/T?) 

Emerson Music House was financed with gifts from two trustees — W.A T 

alcott and Ralph Emerson M^fcCfiJ/jJ 

An early Rockford College campus photo shows students 
playing tennis on the lawn near Sill Hall, left. Other build- 
ings in the background are Linden, Middle and Talcott 
Hall, with Adams Hall at the far right. Later the quadrangle 
was completed with construction of Barnes Hall, which 
closed the end between Linden and Sill, and Lathrop Hall, 
which housed a dormitory and classrooms and a swimming 
pool, in the tennis court area. 

This aerial view of the old 
ings completed 

tmpus shows all of the build- 

(Mw /&lt;/%) 

m SM tenter 

Berta Arreguin 

Fall Semester 2001 

Rock Valley College 

English Composition I 

Berta Arreguin 
English 101 NCE01 
20 November 2001 

The Providing Seton Center 

The Seton Center has been an important building for the community. The center 
provides many services. It has been owned and operated by the Catholic Diocese of 
Rockford and located on 921 West State St. for over 70 years. Despite it being an old 
building, it stands in good condition. The Seton Center has undergone major 
constructions internally, but the outside remains as a remembrance of St. Thomas High 

The Seton Center originally started as St. Thomas High School in 1929. St. 
Thomas High School began at St. James School, a pro-cathedral school, coeducational, 
on North Second St.. There was plenty of space for the students, but after two years, the 
Bishop P. J. Muldoon decided to relocate to a larger building. He purchased the old Ellis 
School building at West State and Stanley Street to accommodate the steadily increasing 
number or registrants (McDonald 55). This two-story brick building, that was used as a 
public elementary school was purchased from the Board of Education. 

As the Catholic community expanded in Rockford, it was necessary for additional 
classrooms to be purchased. On March 26, 1921, the Coliseum, a large hall situated on 
West State Street near Kent Creek was purchased to serve as the gymnasium for St. 
Thomas High. The hall was large, spacious and sometimes used for various high school 
entertainments. Five classrooms were built along the West side for their use also. 

After many years of serving the Catholic Diocese of Rockford, Bishop Muldoon 
died on October 8, 1927. For the next couple of years the Christian Brothers took charge 

Arreguin - 2 

of the school (Miller 285-286). 

On 1929, under the guidance of the new bishop of the Diocese of Rockford, 
Edward F. Hoban, the Catholic Church in Rockford carried out extensive educational 
programs. The new St. Thomas High School was being constructed next to the coliseum 
(the gymnasium) and the Muldoon High School (named after the first bishop of the 
Diocese of Rockford) was also being built not too far from there. 

A Rockford architect named W. J. Vander Meer designed both buildings. The St. 
Thomas was a model of Tudor Gothic Architecture consisting of a ground floor and three 
upper stories with a capacity of 400 students. Tolmie Bros., was the contractor for the 
school and C.B. Conner served capably as the construction superintendent ("Two New 
High Schools In Rockford"). 

However, in the fall of 1930, the opening of the new schools brought an end to the 
co-education in Rockford. The boys attended St. Thomas and the girls went to Muldoon 
High. The Augustinian Fathers were in charge of St. Thomas while Sinsinawa 
Dominican Sisters remained in charge of the Muldoon High in 1933 (Miller 286). 

In July of 1952, St. Thomas High School flooded. Floodwaters from the Kent 
creek filled the basement and the first floors. The Coliseum was filled with four feet of 
water. The repairs for the damages caused by the flood were approximately $20,000 to 
$25,000. The maintenance people and 15 students helped with the repairs. The first tloor 
and the Coliseum's floors were replaced, painted where needed, and other damaged 
equipment was fixed ("Two New High Schools In Rockford"). 

After it recovered from the flood damage, the Augustinian Fathers built a grotto in 
the honor of the Lady of Good Counsel in 1953. This piece of art is located on the Bast 

Arreguin - 3 

Side of the Seton Center. The grotto's history goes back to the 15th century. Genazzano, 
Italy celebrated an annual feast for the patron saint, Saint Mark. A cloud appeared on a 
church that was being rebuilt but was not finished, because the older lady, who was 
providing the funds, ran out of money. When the cloud disappeared, a picture of Our 
Lady of Good Counsel was visible ("St. Thomas Grotto Ready for Dedication"). "The 
Grotto is a beautiful piece of art," said Guadalupe Gomez (Gomez interview). 

The Seton Center had undergone several changes internally and externally. St 
Thomas High was the only Catholic School for boys in Rockford until Boylan opened in 
1960. At the same time St. Thomas tried to remain open. It became a college 
preparatory school with the new name St. Thomas Villanova Preparatory School. It 
remained an all-boy school. Two years later, due to decrease of enrollment, the school 
closed and the boys attending were transferred to Boylan. 

Father James Larson recalls when the building was used for a short period of time 
after that as an aspirancy program for high school girls run by the school Sisters of St. 
Francis. After two years they decided to move out. In 1963, the Coliseum, which was 
used as the gymnasium for the St. Thomas High, was demolished and the space was used 
to make a parking lot. Father Larson remembered playing basketball several times there. 
"It was a great place to spend time," he said. 

After the aspirancy program, the Post-Concilliar moved in. " The old school 
desks have been taken out, the worn floors have been covered with tile and lush carpeting 
in some rooms, and the walls have been repainted and new lighting put in" ("Post- 
Concilliar Center Welcomes Protestants"). They provided adult education and sold 
bibles, rosaries, and books. I bought several books and bibles from there." said 

Arreguin - 4 

Guadalupe Gomez (Gomez interview). Later, the parishes provided adult education, so 
there was no longer need to offer these services. The first floor was still used for the 
bookstore until the fall of 1986, when they moved to a new location in Highcrest Center, 
at the intersection of Alpine and Hillcrest Rd, with a new name Vineyard Books and 
Gifts. "It is a great gift shop," said Father Larson (Larson interview). To this day it still 
remains at that location. 

Bishop Arthur J. O'Neill named the Post-Concilliar Center the Seton Center in 
1975. "The center is being renamed for Mother Elizabeth Seton who founded the Sisters 
of Charity and was instrumental in development of the parochial school system in this 
country" ("Postconcilliar Center Getting New Name"). The classrooms from St. Thomas 
High were converted into offices, for the Diocese needs. The chapel on the fourth flood 
that the students attended was also remodeled into an office, however the cathedral 
ceilings still stand. At the time, Father Larson and a few other priests lived on the third 
floor for about a year and a half. Every one had his own bedroom, but they had to share 
the little kitchen and bathroom. The priests worked at the education office, in the same 
building, to service the Diocese needs such as serving as priests. "When the doorbell 
rang I had to run from the third floor to the first to see whom it was," said father Larson 
(Larson interview). He also had to carry his groceries up the stairs to his room, because 
the elevators were not built until the mid 1980s when he no longer lived there. 

As the Seton center continues to serve the community, and Diocese needs these 
are several offices that are still located at the Seton Center: 

The Centro Sembrador, which is located on the first floor, helps the Hispanics 
several ways. Father John Wentland who was the founder, also lived at the Seton Center 

Arreguin - 5 

for some time. Edgar R. Beltran and wife Ignacia R. Beltran are the coordinators, who 
have provided Catholic services to the community for over 18 years. Ignacia advises the 
immigrants on how to become legal residents and becoming U.S. citizens. "With the 
help of the Centro Sembrador I was able to get all the information I needed to become a 
legal resident," said Guadalupe Gomez (Gomez interview). 

On the third floor there is a room where Father Larson, who is a retired priest, still 
gives mass to the employees of the center on a daily basis. 

The other offices are to serve the Diocese of Rockford. They handle the 
accounting and the data entry. The Catholic Charitie is a major project that has been 
accomplished for several years now. 

Another great office that is located on the third floor at the Seton Center is The 
Observer. It has served the Diocese of Rockford with writing about the Catholic Society 
for many years now. The author visited the center and met several employees that were 
very helpful on providing information about the Seton Center. These are some of the 
helpful services provided by this historical building. 

The Seton Center has survived many changes throughout its history. It 
continuously provides services to the Rockford community. It is like a cat with nine lives 
as described in The Observer. The Seton Center offers services from helping with 
immigration laws, charities, bookstore, and many more services. Its doors remain open 
to serve the public with a warm welcome. "It is a friendly place," said Father Larson 
Larson interview). The Centro Sembrador is always willing to help everyone," said 
Guadalupe Gomez (Gomez interview). 

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Works Cited 
Arreguin, Berta. Photo. The Seton Center. Rockford, 111. 3 November 2001. 
Gomez, Guadalupe. Personal Interview. 20 November 2001 . 
"Figure Damage At St. Thomas." Rockford Register Star 22 July 1952. 

Rockfordiana Files, Rockford Public Library. 
Larson, F. James Rev.. Personal interview. 26 October 2001. 
McDonald, Edward L. Golden Jubilee History of the Diocese of Rockford. 

Rockford, Illinois: Waldsmith Illustrators, 1959. Photo. 
Miller, Robert R. That All May Be One; A History of the Rockford Diocese. 

Chicago: Lakeside Press, 1976. 
"Post -Conciliar Center Welcomes Protestants." Rockford Register Star 31 December 

1966. Rockfordiana Files, Rockford Public Library. 
"Post-Concilliar Center Getting New Name," Rockford Register Star 8 August 1975. 

Rockfordiana Files, Rockford Public Library. 
"Seton Center Like Cat with Nine Lives. " The Observer 28 Nov. 1986. 

St. Thomas High School, The Seton Center. Photo. 
"St. Thomas Grotto Ready for Dedication." Rockford Register Star 24 May 1953. 

Rockfordiana Files, Rockford Public Library. 
"Two New Schools In Rockford." Rockford Dailey Republic 1 Oct. 1929. 

Rockfordiana Files, Rockford Public Library. 

Fun and Excitement in the "City with a Heart" at 
Shorewood Park 

By Amy G. 

' : ' ' "3 . ' 

Amy Hill 
English 101 
Scott Fisher 
November 29, 2001 

Fun and Excitement in the "City with a Heart" at 
Shorewood Park 
Shorewood Park is a beautiful 39-acre densely wooded park located in the "City 
with a Heart", Loves Park, Illinois, within 10 miles south of the Illinois and Wisconsin 
state border. Shorewood Park has been in Loves Park since the l&amp;OOs, even before the 
city had a heart. Shorewood Park has always served the same purpose, to provide fun 
and excitement to everyone who visits. 

Aerial photo of Loves Park community, c. 1945, looking north. The straight road in the center is \orth Second street 
The diagonal road to the riQht is Forest Hills Road and the Rock River is at toft. Note: lhe white building in the center 
is the Woodward Governor Co. Photo courtes) ol Hill ll. Halbln. 


Back in 1843, William Jolly along with a group of other men migrated to the 
Northern Illinois area. After the Black Hawk war ended, many people were looking for 
land with rich soil to provide a homestead for their 
families. William Jolly purchased 170 acres of 
section 12 on November 3, 1843 (Campbell, 10). 
Section 12 is comprised of the river front park now 
known as Shorewood Park. Jolly chose not to stay 
in Winnebago County. Omri J. Cummings, a local 
resident, stated "that Jolly decided to leave after his 
wife, died in May of 1849"(CampbeIl, 10). He sold 
his land to Elizabeth Strawn, who was known as 
"Widow Strawn" by her neighbors. Widow Strawn 
purchased 80 of the 170-acres on December 20, 
1849 placing her in the historical record of Loves 
Park as the first settler to purchase land. The southern 100-acres of Jolly's land was 
purchased by Hiram Snow from Simeon S. Burke in 1881. The Snow Family developed 
Loves Park's first industry, The Rockf ord Pickle Works. The pickles were grown where 
Shorewood Park is now and the processing plant was located where the Curve Fishing 
and Marine dealership is at now (Campbell, 11). 

Pace's 1886 Illustrated Atlas of Winnebago and Boone 
Counties, Illinois. Courtes\ of John \tol\neau\. Local 
History Room, Rockf ord Public Libran. 

Snow's Rockford Pickle 

Works, 4600 block of 

North Second Street, c. 

1910. The processing 

plant was due west of 

North Second Street at 

Snow's Crossing. 

Photo courtesy of 

Richard J. Marsh. 

. . ■ I • 






Widow Strawn was a single parent with four children. The land in Section 12, now 
known as Shorewood Park, was a great place for a family. The Strawn Family enjoyed 
fishing, swimming, boating and dancing there, providing them with a lot of fun and 
excitement. The Rock River in the late 1890s and early 1900s was a favorite recreation 
area for local residents (Campbell, 59). 

The Strawn Family was just the beginning of many families to the area. With the 
area expanding, the Rockford, Beloit and Janesville Railway Company began grading the 
land for a new railway. On June 22, 1902, the first rail car operated from Rockford to 
Beloit. With all this development Widow Strawn decided to sell her land to Malcolm 
Love in 1901 (Campbell, 59) 

A Rockford Interurban 
trolley car flashes across 
the countryside at 40-45 
miles per hour. The 
Interurban provided 
commuter transportation 
between towns and cities 
during the 1900-1930s. 
Photo courtes\ of Arthur 
W. Anderson and \orth 
Suburban Li bran. 

Malcolm Love really pushed the development of Shorewood 
Park. Love used the land as his own private park, inviting local 
sports clubs like the Rockford Beefsteak Club and the Rockford 
Outing Club to take riverboat excursions to his land (Campbell, 
59). There was fishing, picnics, baseball games, dances and outings there every 
weekend. The property became known as "Loves Grove" or "Loves Park" a place where 


' ■■ ■ 

■ . 

local residents could go for fun and excitement. 

The first subdivision was built in the current Shorewood Park area back in 1905. 
With all the development going on the, "City of Rockford" and "Illinois" steamboats 
could not resist docking in what is now Shorewood Park (Campbell, 114). 

The Rock River Steamboat "Illinois" docking at 

Harlem Park opposite "Love's Park," c. 1915. 

The Illinois also docked at Love's Grove (Park), 

lln Park and Illinois Park between the 1890s and 

1920s. Photo courtesy of Ruby H. Layng 

family papers and Grace Miller. 

By 1907 there was a dance-hall pavilion built for dancing and entertainment by local 
residents. The local churches used the sandy-beached area at the Park as a place for 
mass baptisms (Campbell, 114). 

As the land developed and the subdivisions grew, Eastwood and Stockburger, a 
local Rockford realty company, purchased Malcolm Love's riverfront property in 1909. 
Being a Rockford Industrialist, a civic leader and an Alderman, Love did not have time to 
care for the land as needed (Campbell, 114). 

Loves Park became incorporated on April 30, 1947. The name of the city was 

obvious to the local residents. It went undisputed; the city should be named after 
Malcolm Love, as he was a major role in the development of the city. The only dispute 
was whether or not to have the apostrophe. The residents voted to drop it. 

Then, in 1958, the Rockford Park District bought the former property of 
Malcolm Love, which is now Shorewood Park, for $58,000. Feeling they could no longer 
call it Loves Park because of the city's name, the Park District held a contest to 
determine the name. The contest was brought to the Loves park schools. Out of 700 
names, Marcia Wallace, an 11 -year old won with the name of Shorewood Park. The 
name is still used today, 43 years later, even though not a widely known park by that 
name, it has seen a lot of visitors through the time (Hill). 

Initial work clearing a roadway through the park began on November 19, 1964. 
Through the winter, the dead trees and underbrush were cleared, preparing the park for 
improvement in the next spring. Unfortunately, the springtime improvements were 
delayed due to the difficulty in obtaining a dredging machine, also known as a sand 
sucker. The maintenance superintendent, William Bailey, in 1965 told the Rockford 
Re gister Star he "knew of no such machine around Rockford, so the dredger would have 
to be brought in from another area." The Rockford Register Star reported bringing in a 
dredger would be just too expensive, for the little job that needed to be done. 

The conflict of not having a dredger did not stop development for long. By the 
summer of 1967, Shorewood Park had a shelter house and restroom and a footbridge that 
went across a ditch that flows through the area. The dock and parking areas were done 
and the beach around the slough was covered in sand. So began the wondrous beauty and 
usefulness of Shorewood Park. 

• ■ 


The beauty of Shorewood Park sitting on the Rock River caused four families, the 
Augensens, Browns, Littles and the Oxleys, to form an organized water ski club. The 
four families provided the initial support for the club's formation and activities, going by 
the name of the Ski Bronc's. In 196$, Shorewood Park saw another first. The Ski 
Bronc's had built their first ski jump and performed their first of many water ski shows. 
The Rockford Park District reached an agreement with the Ski Bronc's in 1975 to 
perform summertime water ski shows. The ski shows provided the local residents with a 
lot of fun and excitement (Campbell, 117) 

The Rockford Park District, in cooperation with the Ski Bronc's, began further 
improvements to Shorewood Park in 1986. That is when the sandy beach was expanded 
with retaining walls, bleachers were installed for the parks many visitors, a concession 
stand and storage facility was built to allow for maximum use of Shorewood Park's 
potential for fun and excitement (Rockford Register Star, 11/19/64). 

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Many local residents liked the expansion, including the bike path that ran right 
through Shorewood Park causing the Park to lose some trees. Todd Aurand, a local 
resident said " I remember coming to the park and seeing the big reddish orange X's on 
trees that were to be removed". Aurand recalls "it didn't seem like many and it was well 
worth it for the bike path". 

Development of the "City with a Heart" lead to more improvements. Shorewood 
Park, in 1992, provided more grandstands to allow for over 3,500 spectators who visited 
Shorewood Park during the U.S National Water-ski Show Tournament which was held 
there in 1987, 1994, 1996, 2000 and the great possibility of being held again in 2002. 
According to Marsha McCalmon, the wife of the current Ski Bronc's president, "Each 
year the teams wanting to host the show have to submit a bid." McCalmon recalls "all the 
fun we've [her and her family] had through the years Shorewood Park has provided a lot 
of fun and excitement for us," 

Through the years, since 1843 to today, Shorewood Park has provided the local 
residents with a lot of fun and excitement, at least for those who enjoy swimming, water 
skiing, biking, hiking, boating, fishing and having picnics. This writer believes that years 
from now the local residents will still look for fun and excitement in the "City with a 
Heart", Loves Park at Shorewood Park. 





Works Cited 

Campbell, Craig G., History of Loves Park, Illinois, Rockford, Illinois 1998 

Cyberworks Media Group, "City of Loves Park", Community Profile Network, 

October 4, 2001, Online, Community Profile Network, Inc. &amp; Progressive 

Publishing, Inc., October 4, 2001, Available: 
Cyberworks Media Group, "History of Loves Park", City of Loves Park . October 4, 

2001, Online, Community Profile Network, Inc. &amp; Progressive Publishing Inc., 

October 4, 2001, Available: 
Rockford Park District, photo copy of park sheet, 2001, Vance Berry, page 8 

paragraph 3. 
"Work Starts on New Park", Rockford Register Star. November 19. 1964. 

"River Shore Park Project Delayed to Next Summer", Rockford Register Star . 

September 30, 1965 
The Ski Broncs Water-ski show team,"...and in the beginning"' The Ski Broncs 

Waterski Show Team presents...Shagadelic ski s how 2001. 2001 page #4. 

Show program. 
Aurand Todd, personal interview, October 30, 2001. 
McCalmon Marsha, personal interview, November 27, 2001. 
Hill Amy, personal interview, November 14, 2001. 










Jennifer Evans 

English 101 Section NCE1 

16 November 2001 

The Roscoe Sportsmen's Club: 
The Timeless Ideals of Harry Evans 

The Roscoe Sportsmen's Club, in 1949, was one of the most active sportsmen's 
organizations in the state of Illinois, even though it was relatively small in size ("New 
Clubhouse Ready. . ." No p). This is still true today. While many things have changed, 
the important things have stayed the same. For over 52 years, this club has served its 
original purpose; the conservation and propagation of wild life (RSC "Constitution . . . 

In 1844, Roscoe had its greatest economic boom, when James Thompson began 
erecting buildings along Kinnikinnick Creek. He built a woolen mill on the bank of the 
creek east of Pearl Street; very close to the trailer home that Harry Evans resided in 1966. 
This is near the club's current location. The mill consisted of a limestone structure and 
stood four stories tall. He also built his home there, on Pearl Street, presently the home 
of the Clayton Winter family, the granddaughter of Harry Evans (Shugars 4). Sara 
Winters says, "You can still see the mounds across my property where the woolen mill 
once stood" (Winters Interview). 

A sad chapter in the history of Roscoe began June 3, 1857. A severe rainstorm 
caused the culvert of the railroad to back up, which created a lake of water in back of the 
railroad embankment. Eventually, it gave way, sending a massive flood through the 
center of the town. Rev. Horatio Ilsley, the pastor of the Congregational Church, lost his 
home, his wife, and eight children ("Roscoe, Its History... " 5; Shugars 7). At least nine 

Evans 2 

local buildings were destroyed or damaged, including the woolen mill, it was restored 
and was back in operation for forty-one more years before being deliberately destroyed 
for safety reasons in 1 898 (Shugars 7). 

The Roscoe Sportsmen's Club formed their organization on December 6, 1939 
("New Clubhouse Ready..." No p.). Harry Evans was the original founding member and 
sought after a team of men united with the purpose of conservation and propagation of 
wildlife (Winters Interview). He desired an outlet where men could bond and belong to 
something larger than themselves. He knew that they needed a place to gain a sense of 
brotherhood to take their minds off the events taking place in the world. World War II 
was over, but communism was spreading. There was a growing sense of uncertainty 
about the future. The unfathomable horrors, which Hitler and the Nazis had committed, 
were just starting to sink into the minds of the world. The men that discovered these 
atrocities and fought the evil enemy were looking for camaraderie here at home. 

Residing in the old Thompson house on Pearl Street, one of the earliest homes in 
the Roscoe village, Harry owned all of the property up to Elm Street (McCleary 19-20). 
He donated a spectacular piece of property upon which the clubhouse was to be built. He 
generously gave the club a 100-year lease for the land at the cost of $1 .00 per year 
(Bailey; Barber; Balentyne; Gilmore; Shinn; Westphal; Winters Interviews). The club 
was now ready to build a home of their own. 

In April of 1948, when the 100 members decided to build the clubhouse, the 
members had no money in their treasury. The only source of income available was from 
dues amounting to only $1 .50 per year. Nevertheless, the Roscoe Sportsmen's Club had 
secured a site, prepared plans, and begun work on the construction of the clubhouse. 

Evans 3 

Through numerous donations from local businesses in the community, they obtained all 
of the necessary materials needed to erect the clubhouse ("New clubhouse Ready. . ." No 

Pooling together the many talents of each member, a construction firm was not 
needed. Working in their spare time and on weekends, club members completed the 
clubhouse in eighteen months. They held on open house on Sunday, October 2, 1 949 for 
their families, friends, and area sportsmen in their new clubhouse. The small, but 
growing community of Roscoe welcomed their new neighbors by attending the open 
house ("New Clubhouse Ready... "No p.) 

The clubhouse was a monument to members of the Roscoe club as they now had a 
place to call home. They had a place they could bond with other men and feel safe 
among friends. They also created an outlet in which they could give something back to 
the community as well. 

The Roscoe Sportsmen's Club is easily found as it located in downtown Roscoe. 
Begin by driving northbound on IL 25 1 . Upon turning right onto Bridge Street and 
entering the diminutive town of Roscoe, IL, it is clear that this town, is a deep, clean 
breath removed from the chaos of a larger city. Continue eastbound for one block to a 
four-way stop at Bridge and Main Street. Be sure to catch a glimpse of the row of 
vintage buildings on the left (J. Evans). 

Drive eastbound for one more block, looking carefully not to miss the left turn 
onto Pearl Street. The remainder of the journey is like a Sunday stroll. Venturing down 
this wooded, residential street, drive slowly as turkeys and pheasant prance from yard to 
yard, being intimidated by few. Follow Pearl Street to a dead end. On the left is a 

Evans 4 

beautiful, secluded cabin set back on a wooded lot. This is the Roscoe Sportsmen's Club 
(J. Evans). 

Parking is limited on this dead-end street, so the cars filter into a single file line 
like that of school children lining up for recess. Logs are set parallel to the building to 
provide additional nose-in parking (Westphal Interview). 

The first time seeing the Roscoe Sportsmen Club is like taking a leap back to Abe 
Lincoln's cabin (J. Evans). Unlike the raw trees used in a typical log cabin, telephone 
poles were used. Many of the members worked for the phone company and were able to 
get the poles at no cost (Bailey; Barber; Gilmore; Westphal Interviews). Be sure to 
observe the greater size of the poles at the base of the building, which were used for 
added strength and support. The overhang provides a covered entrance sheltering the 
propane tanks, which are used as the primary source of heat (Westphal Interview). The 
distinctive, oversized door, handcrafted from select poles of pine, tempts one to 
investigate what lies beyond (J. Evans). 

While strolling around the building touching the outer walls, one becomes aware 
that this cabin is virtually unharmed by weather. Each russet-colored pole feels as 
smooth as glass. The hardy exterior welcomes the nature lover to a sportsmen's terrain. 
The many grand, square windows that encircle the building illuminate the structure's 
interior. Upon peeking into the windows, the simplicity reflects a sportsmen's paradise 
(J. Evans). 

Erupting from the ground and rising to treetop level is a massive stone and mortar 
chimney serving dual purposes. The exterior's vast opening, used for outdoor grilling. 
emits the scent of embers burning while the interior chimney vents the fireplace within. 

Evans 5 

The crimson, shingled roof holds in thousands of memories of over fifty years of 
comradeship (J. Evans). 

The cabin is set back on a beautiful piece of property. Enormous shade trees 
stand tall, hovering with protection like a mother bird perched over her young. In the 
distance, the only sounds are an occasional bird singing and a flowing creek that lines the 
property. The fluttering of water passing over the pebbles is as soothing as a cat purring. 
Throughout the day, a cluster of turkeys makes its way around the club grounds. The 
birds strut as proudly as a father bringing home his newborn baby. This is their home. 
The scattered feathers near the cabin are evidence that even these magnificent fowl are 
not without enemies. Many squirrels hurriedly scamper for food as if it was the last day 
before winter (J. Evans). 

As the Roscoe Sportsmen's Club stands strong with age, it is a vivid example of 
how some things never change. Over 52 years ago, Harry Evans had a vision of this club 
not only conserving and propagating wildlife, but also reaching out to the community. 
This club, still standing in its original location since 1949, continues to serve the same 
purposes today. The rustic sign hanging under the front gable remembers its founder, 
Harry Evans, and his vision for the Roscoe Sportsmen's Club (J. Evans). 

Upon entering the rugged and rustic cabin, the warm, uncomplicated room 
welcomes the sportsman. The author is reminded of many years spent in local 
sportsmen's club as a child with her parents. Being here reminds her of that second 
home. The laughter of each Monday night for the past 52 years can still be heard echoing 
through the building (J. Evans). 

Evans 6 

Droplights, that once hung in a one-room schoolhouse in 1949, still hang with 
might from the ceiling (Bailey; Barber Interviews). Walls, consisting only of the reverse 
side of the telephone poles, wrap around one like a blanket on a chilly day (J. Evans). 
They are filled with trophies hunted by past members, a hunter's hall of fame. One deer 
hangs in memoriam of a deceased member, Bill Dimke, donated by his wife (Bailey; 
Barber Interviews). 

In the late 1960s, the walls endured a flood from heavy rain causing four feet of 
water. The Roscoe Fire Department showed their community support by power-washing 
the mud and debris out of the cabin. Some of the poles had to be replaced over the next 
several years due to the extensive flood damage (Bailey; Balentyne; Barber; Shinn 

Dave Barber, a member of 30 years, recalled seeing the wicker furniture, donated 
in 1949, floating throughout the club due to the water level. This furniture was salvaged 
and is still being used today (Barber Interview). 

Though no longer in use, the donations of a stove, a sink and a water pump, given 
to the club by members, stand as a reminder of years gone by. All cooking is now done 
outside on the grill located on the outer wall of the chimney (Barber; Bailey; Gilmore; 
Shinn Interviews). This includes the infamous Steak Fry, held every October. The club 
puts the event on to thank the farmers for hunting privileges. In fact, in 1 999, the club 
hosted its 60 th founding anniversary party and invited all founders and retired members 
still living, as well as the farmers and Sara Winters, current property owner and 
granddaughter of Harry Evans. The porch, which was enclosed in the 1950s for storage, 
holds all the necessities for these events (Bailey; Barber; Westphal Interviews). 

Evans 7 

The stone and mortar chimney reaches from ground to ceiling, reminding 
members of a time when it was the only source of heat (J. Evans). Tom Shinn recalled 
propane tanks being added for heating in the 1960s (Shinn Interview). Then, in 1981, 
Harry Balentyne and Bill Dimke set out to reconstruct the once grand, but slowly 
deteriorating, chimney. Balentyne recalled collaborating with Dimke, etching each stone 
out, piece-by piece, to ensure replacing it to its original position (Balentyne; Gilmore 

Originally, membership requirements consisted of $1.50 in yearly dues and a 
short waiting list. The club was made up of 100 members when it opened in 1 949 ("New 
Clubhouse Ready..." No p). Today, membership is limited to 60 members due to space, 
and there is still a waiting list. Applying for membership now requires a two-year 
member sponsor and a speech detailing why the club should admit an applicant. When 
there is an opening, members are voted in by a majority rule, and dues are now $60 per 
year with a $15 initiation fee. Once voted in, each member is required to donate a 
minimum of 12 hours of work per year. Work hours are defined as: working at the 
clubhouse, working at the farms, and working on committees and special projects 
including groundwork on Sara Winters' property (Barber; Bailey; Westphal Interviews; 
RSC "Constitution..."!). 

The members have currently added junior members to the club. The prospective 
junior member must have a valid Hunter Safety Card from the State of Illinois to apply 
for membership. Under normal circumstances, the junior member must have a parent or 
grandparent as a current member; however, they make exceptions based on the needs of 
the member. An exception may be that the junior member does not have a rather or ma\ 

Evans 8 

have a father who does not hunt. The junior members are also voted in by a majority rule 
and automatically become a member upon turning the age of 1 8. Branden and Nathan, 
grandchildren of a current member, Robert Westphal, comment on becoming junior 
members: "I have helped my grandpa work at the clubhouse and have gone to many 
steakfrys. I am looking forward to being a member now," says Nathan, a hopeful junior 
member (Evans, Nathan Interview). Branden says, " I want to become a member so that 
I can hunt with my grandpa more" (Simoens, Branden Interview). 

The Roscoe Sportsmen's Club has always been actively involved in helping the 
community. Over the years, some of the ways in which they have been involved have 
changed. They have always helped area farmers with the upkeep of farms, aiding farmers 
in a variety of ways depending on needs. They currently concentrate their outreach on 
eight large farms in the local area. They help with mending fences, painting barns, and 
policing the farms from trespassers. They post signs letting other hunters know that only 
members of The Roscoe Sportsmen's Club are allowed to hunt these farms. They also 
initiated a method of identifying themselves to farmers by insisting that members wear 
badges when on farms and signing in and out on the property. In return, they are allowed 
to exclusively hunt on these farms (Bailey; Bailey; Westphal Interviews). 

Since the beginning, the club has participated in the preservation of pheasants. 
They started a raise-and- release program that kept the area pheasant count plentiful. 
Several years ago, they joined a nationwide organization called "Pheasants Forever," a 
group that helps re-establish habitat for pheasants on farms. The group operates by 
removing dead trees and performing controlled burns, allowing the plant life from 50-60 
years ago to regenerate the farms. This process creates a natural habitat for pheasants and 

Evans 9 

other wildlife indigenous to the area. At the same time, the group provides a place to 
raise the pheasants, which at maturity will be released (Bailey; Barber; Westphal 

One of the new community activities the club members started participating in a 
few years ago is called the "Fishing Has No Boundaries." This organization, founded in 
1987, takes handicapped children from all over the Midwest, up to Hay ward, Wisconsin, 
the third week every May. They customize fishing equipment to meet the physical and 
cognitive disabilities of each child. Since many participants are in wheelchairs, pontoon 
boats donated by resorts located near Hayward are used. "As a member of the Roscoe 
Sportsmen's Club, I feel it's important to give something back. Talking to some of these 
kids, I found a 16-year-old who had never been fishing. To me, it's almost criminal. . . 
We get out there on the water and see eagles, beaver, and deer along the shoreline. . .the 
kids really get a chance to experience nature," says David Grass, a Roscoe Sportsmen's 
Club member who helps head this organization (Bailey; Barber Interviews; Rocha A5). 

Members feel it is important to let the community know that they are not only 
interested in hunting, but are also concerned about the environment. To make this 
known, in 1982 the club organized a river cleanup along the banks in Rockton, Illinois. 
After continuing this cleanup for several years, the Roscoe Sportsmen's Club joined with 
the third annual Rock River Sweep in 1997. This event takes place in June, during 
Illinois River Appreciation month. The club had a problem with disposing of the trash 
and the Rock River Sweep organization offered to help out. They have dumpsters located 
at strategic locations along the river. The two organizations joining together have 

Evans 10 

expanded this river sweep just north of the Roscoe Bridge for the first time, and right to 
the stateline ("Rockton... Cleanup" 8; Bailey; Barber Interviews). 

Volunteers choose an area of the Rock River to focus on to clean away debris, and 
the Roscoe Sportsmen's Club is responsible for the Rockton Dam area. The club 
members walk along the riverbank and have found a variety of items including tires, 
bottles, and even an outhouse ("Rockton... Cleanup" 8; Bailey; Barber Interviews). 

The club is serving the same purpose today as when it was founded. While many 
things have changed, many have stayed the same. Men still join together as a team to 
accomplish a common goal. There is still no alcohol or gambling allowed (Bailey; 
Barber; Gilmore Interviews; RSC "Constitution... "1). While there has never been a rule 
preventing women from joining the club, there has still never been a female that has 
expressed interest. Members hope with the increase in the number of women hunters and 
an increased interest in the outdoors, the first female member will join in the near future 
(Westphal Interview). 

The Roscoe Sportsmen's Club was created as a vehicle to allow men to give their 
time and energy to something greater than themselves. It also allowed those same men to 
receive more in camaraderie, kinship, and a sense of purpose than they gave. Through 
the Cold War and especially with the recent events on September 1 1 , 200 1 , the 
uncertainty continues. The players have changed, but the sense of fear lingers. In the 
late 1980s, the club members worked together and painted both the inside and outside of 
the clubhouse in half a day (Gilmore Interview). This is just a small example of the 
teamwork, brotherhood and dedication this group of men display with every act of 
service. The club is a small gathering of determined men that has. since its inception. 

Evans 11 

made a large impact on the Roscoe area. This diminutive group of men will continue to 
make the necessary changes in the years to come, but will strive to hang on to what must 
never change: the ideals Harry Evans set out to accomplish 52 years ago. He would be 
proud (J. Evans). 

Works Cited 

Bailey, William. Personal interview. 8 September 2001. 

Balentyne, Harry. Telephone interview. 25 September 2001. 

Barber, Dave. Personal interview. 8 September 2001. 

Evans, Jennifer. Photo. Roscoe Sportsmen's Club. Roscoe, IL. August 2001. 

Evans, Nathan. Personal interview. 17 November 2001. 

Gilmore, Jack. Telephone interview. 25 September 2001. 

McCleary, Judy. "Harry Evans is Mr. Roscoe." Rockton Herald 19-20 October 1972: 

"New Clubhouse of Sportsmen Ready For Use." 26-30 September to 1-2 October 1949. 

Pash, Phil. "Rock, Kishwaukee Cleanup Plans Moving Along." Rockford Register Star 
25 May 1997: 4c. 

Rocha, Toni. "Out-of-Doors Experiences Offered to Special People." Northeast Journal 
15 September 1993: AS. 

"Rockton. . . Clean Up Along River." Rockton-Roscoe Herald 4 June 1 986: pg 8. 

"Roscoe, Its History and People." The Rockford Register-Gazette 28 October 1910: 

Roscoe Sportsmen's Club. "Constitution and By-Laws." Revised June 1, 1978 and 
February 1993. 

Roscoe Sportsmen's Club. Photos. 1948-1949. 

Shinn, Tom. Telephone interview. 14 October 2001. 

Shugars, Florence, ed. "Historical Highlights of Roscoe." Roscoe, IL: 1970. 

Simoens, Branden. Personal interview. 17 November 2001. 

Westphal, Robert. Personal interview. 3 September 200 1 . 

Winters, Sara. Personal interview. 2 1 October 200 1 

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AUGUST 2001 

The Old Stone School: Then And Now 


Corene L. Combs 

Fall Semester 2001 

Rock Valley College English Composition I 

Corene L. Combs 
English 101 Section NCE I 
24 November 2001 

The Old Stone School: Then and Now 

If being the oldest educational building in Winnebago County does 
not command one's interest, it should. The building in which The Old Stone 
Preschool is housed is over one hundred and forty years old and still being 
used for educational purposes today. 

When the author began teaching at the preschool five years ago, she 
had no idea of its history. All the author knew was that it was an adorable 
setting and a welcoming place for children. Though the author spends almost 
everyday in this unique building, little was known about its history. In this 
fast-pace world where everybody is in such a hurry, where bigger is better, it 
is wonderful to get a little taste of the past. The setting has a way of 
transporting people back in time to a simpler way of life (Combs). 

The Old Stone Preschool stands as a reminder that the traditional 
small-school setting is still the best way to teach children, given its 
distinguished 147-year-old history (Combs). Originally established in 1854 
in the industrial town of Rockford, Illinois as the Lincoln Park School, it was 
relocated to Rockton, Illinois in 1965 and renamed The Old Stone School. It 
remains the oldest school in Winnebago County (Hamilton 6). 

Combs 2 

Locating this historic treasure is simple, since it is the only school in 
the town of Rockton, still made of cobblestone. From Machesney Park Mall, 
located on the West Side of Route 251, take Route 251 northbound for about 
eight miles. The road begins a serpentine as one passes the western city 
limits of a town "You'll miss if you blink," called Roscoe. The roads are 
lined with trees, which reach up into the sky and paint a picture like a Robert 
Frost poem (Combs). 

At the first traffic-controlled intersection, Route 25 1 and Hononegah 
/Elevator Rd., take Elevator Rd westbound toward the town of Roscoe. 
Turn left and take Hononegah Rd. westbound into Rockton. The road banks 
sharply to the left and for moment NASCAR enthusiasts will feel like their 
favorite drivers pounding the pavement at Daytona (Combs). 

Go to the four-way stop intersecting Hononegah Rd. and S. 
Blackhawk Rd., turn left and go westbound across a modern bridge over the 
Rock River. Continue westbound and on the left is a subdivision called the 

Combs 3 

Woodlands. As the road curves to the right and begins to straighten, the Old 
Stone Preschool is on the left (Combs). 

Oak trees girdle the area. The building has a rectangle shape similar to 
the shotgun houses built during the 1940's. A mason's puzzle of cobblestone 
shape the exterior walls of the structure, which have remained rough and 
gritty as though it was taken from the quarry yesterday. The truss system is 
simple, built with barn beams rarely seen these days. Accenting a green, 
three-tab shingled roof is a bell tower that rises beyond the peak of the roof. 
Now painted confederate gray with green shutters, the tower stands empty 
waiting silently for the bell to ring (Combs). 

The building stands strong and secure, as a father holding a young 
child on his lap. A rustic split post fence corrals the school. The area is 
heavily wooded and beautifully landscaped. Tall windows standing side by 
side like soldiers in formation parallel the interior of the school. Trimmed 
green as a cucumber on the vine, each window engulfs day and night like a 
telescope (Combs). Moving toward the back of the school, a wooden privac) 
fence secures a playground. An antique elephant slide remains motionless 
guarding its territory with steel vigilance. The setting is tranquil. 

Combs 4 

welcoming, and for a moment, you are transported back to your childhood 

Thatcher Blake and Geranicus Kent appeared on the scene back in 
1834 to become the first settlers in Midway, the settlement which later 
became Rockford. On November 1, 1856, School District No. 6 bought less 
than an acre of land located in Rockford, Illinois on the northwest corner of 
W. State St and Springfield Ave. from Thatcher and Mary Jane Blake. There 
was most certainly some insight to the sale of this particular piece of 
property by Thatcher and Mary Jane Blake in that they agreed to the sale as 
long as three prerequisites were met to seal the deal (Hamilton 6). 

First, a school was to be erected within eighteen months of the sale. 
Second, the school grounds were to be enclosed by a board fence kept in 
good repair. Third, if the premises ceased to be used for the purpose of a 
school, they would revert to the previous owner or their heirs. School 
directors William Jobes, Riley Hall, and William Fowler handled the 
transaction (Hamilton 6). While these gentlemen handled the business aspect 
of the deal, Joseph Carpenter, a stone mason, handled the labor by laying the 
stone for the Old Stone School (Hamilton 26). 




Combs 5 

Chicago and Galena were two of the most important cities in northern 
Illinois at that time and the schoolhouse was a landmark between them. 
Incorporated as a city in 1852, Rockford was just showing signs of future 
importance (Hamilton 6). 

If not for the $30.00 purchase of a small piece of farmland, less than 
an acre, in 1857, the Old Stone School would have probably never become 
the historic site it is today (Hamilton 6) 

World events during the time of the Old Stone School's birth played a 
secondary role to the bloodiest battles in our American history's Civil War. 
The Civil War lasted from 1861-1865 and many great battles occurred. Most 
likely, these battles were the topic of discussion during class time at the 
stone school (Combs). 

These were the times of the "One-room schoolhouse" that spread 
nation-wide. This particular system was structured to teach children of all 
ages and skills in the same room at the same time. In the early days of the 
new stone school, neighbors were forbidden to use the school building tor 
Friday night singing sessions in fear that the floors and woodwork might 

Combs 6 

be damaged (Hamilton 23). While the community embraced the idea of 
having a school, education took a back seat to farm work. The boys appeared 
for book learning only when farm duties did not take priority. With the 
competition between education and farming, some of the boys had to shave 
before they finished the eighth grade (Hamilton 27). 

The Old Stone School went down in Rockford's history as the first 
Winnebago County School. The pioneer residents of this community showed 
their respect for education by erecting a substantial building and providing 
for the maintenance of its grounds. In 1914, the enrollment in the Stone 
School was 50 and the need for more room was evident. In the same year, all 
of the 7 th and 8 th grade students were being sent to the city schools to 
alleviate crowding. This proved to be only a temporary solution. In 1915, a 
four-room brick building was built next to the Old Stone School to 
accommodate more students (Hamilton 6). 

The school board almost decided to tear down the Old Stone School in 
1918 due to needed improvements. However, one member suggested the 
action be delayed because of it's historic value and before the end of the 




Combs 7 

year the Old Stone School was again housing classes (Hamilton 7). A 
vestibule was added on to the front in 1921 and the school continued to 
educate the community until 1963. The school district then used the building 
for storage until it was sold in 1965 (Hamilton 7). 

In 1965, the Old Stone School was sold for $500 to the only bidder, 
Walt Williamson, the owner of the Wagon Wheel Lodge. On August 1 1 and 
12, the schoolhouse was moved to its Wagon Wheel site where it now 
resides (Sweeny). 

According to the present owner, Wayne Bates, the school would never 
have been moved if it were not for the influence of Walt Williamson. The 
crew of about 25 people supervised the moving process, which took three 
truck tractors. A highway truck preceded the entourage, dumping sand and 
gravel on the roads which were not designed for heavy traffic. The roads 
were destroyed by the weight of the school and more than a few road 
officials looked the other way (Bates interview). 

Once the School finally reached the Wagon Wheel, a foundation and a 
basement were waiting for it. Restored to its original character, with only the 
addition of a basement, a stairway in the vestibule, the installation of modern 

Combs 8 

plumbing and a fresh coat of paint inside, the school was a unique recreation 
of an old one-room schoolhouse (Bates interview). 

In a recent visit, Ray Carpenter transcended time by sharing his 
memories of the schoolhouse. Joseph Carpenter, Ray's great grandfather, 
was the stone mason who laid stone in the school. The quality and skill of 
his craft is what allowed the school to survive the relocation process. Ray 
Carpenter attended the Old Stone School in 1947. He recalled students used 
to vie for the chance to haul the classroom's drinking water from the nearby 
Pierpont farm. Individual tin cups were provided for the students to drink the 
water. The children also took turns collecting wood for the stove that 
provided heat for the school (Carpenter interview). 

Ray proclaimed his love for the school although the teachers ruled the 
school with an iron fist. He recalls being hit across the knuckles with a ruler 
or smacked across the face for talking back to a teacher. Ray said, " You 
didn't go back and tell your parents for fear you would get hit again" 
(Carpenter interview). 

Cathy Schafman, Director of the Old Stone School from 1978 to 
1985, recalls the challenges of maintaining such an old building. One of 






Combs 9 

these challenges consisted of trying to repair a hole in the roof which a 
raccoon had claimed as his home (Schafman interview). 

The basement of the school, now used as a storage area, was once 
used for water play and daily exercise sessions. The classroom has also been 
through quite a transformation. Cathy describes an old pump organ, slate 
chalkboards, and a big table with a bench for the children to create their 
crafts. Cathy also recalls the teachers walking over to the Wagon Wheel to 
collect snacks from the kitchen for the children. The Wagon Wheel was also 
utilized as a place to take the children ice skating and swimming (Schafman 

The interior of the building is not the only thing that has changed. Pay 
scales have more than doubled since Cathy's $100-a-week salary. Ratios of 
children allowed in the classroom have changed as well. The Department of 
Children and Family Services standards currently allow 18 students to be 
taught at one time compared to the 25 students taught by Cathy during her 
tenure (Schafman interview). 

With today's safety and fire codes, the interior of the classroom had to 
undergo extensive refurbishing before the school could re-open in 1996. 

Combs 10 

Structural changes, plumbing, electrical and heating updates were made by 
Dave Benjamin to bring the schoolhouse up to date. Dave recalls that it took 
five men to lift and remove the slate chalkboards, which lined the back 
walls. New carpet and tile areas were designated along with constructing a 
charming loft, which has proven to be the children's favorite area. The cost 
of the updating the school was $32,000,00. Renovations started in May of 
1996 and the school was ready by August of that same year (Benjamin 

As a preschool teacher, the author believes in a very hands-on 
approach when working with children. They must be having fun to retain the 
information. To see a child's face light up when they grasp the concept is 
self-fulfilling in itself. The author not only feels extremely fortunate to be 
teaching, but also appreciates the buildings history of education. 

The Old Stone Preschool provides a great service to the community 
and its story is worthy of being told. The relocation and restoration of the 
school allows childhood memories to be shared from one generation to the 
next. Now that you know the way, returning to the past is easy (Combs). 





Worked Cited 

Bates, Wayne. Personal interview. 17 October 2001 . 

Benjamin , Dave. Personal interview. 14 October 2001 . 

Carpenter , Ray. Personal interview. 26 September 2001. 

Combs, Corene. Personal recollections. November 2001. 

"Old Stone Preschool" Photo. Combs, Harold. September 2001 . 

"Interior of District No. 70" Photo. Rockfordiana Files Rockford Public 

"District No. 70, Rockford Township" Photo. Rockfordiana Files Rockford 

Public Library. 
Hamilton, Edwin. Souvenir of the Old Stone School Centennial and Lincoln 

Park School . 1857-1957 Booklet 1957. 
"District No. 70" Photo. Rockfordiana Files Rockford Public Library. 
"Moving Oldest School Building" Photo. Rockford Star 8-12-65. 

Rockfordiana Files Rockford Public Library. 

Schafman, Cathy. Telephone interview. 1 7 October 200 1 . 

Sweeny, Chuck. "Old Stone School is Still Teaching." Rockford Journal , 
"no date" 

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Wove Oldest School Building 

Winnebago County';, oldest school building Wednesday was 
moved from W; State Street stnfl Springfield Avenue more 
than halfway to Kocklon. Mo\ inji crews quit for the day after 
getting to the intersect ion of Ov»eu Center and Cleasnian 
Roads. Formerly owned by Lincoln Park Seluyjl District, lb" 

lOS-ycar-old structure was sold for $500 to Waller A. William- 
son, owner of the Wagon Wheel Lodge. The old school i&gt; to 
be placed on the lodge site near The Church Ry the Side of 
(be Road. (Mornii*g Star photo) yV* c. jy *J .*" 

The Story of Stronghold, a Castle of Dreams 

Sarah Breed 

Fall Semester 2001 

Rock Valley College 

English Composition I 

Sarah Breed Breed - 1 

10 December 2001 
Eng. 101 NCE1 

The Story of Stronghold, a Castle of Dreams 

Situated atop the hills in northern Illinois, Stronghold Castle stands quiet and 
unobtrusive, nestled between the small cities of Byron and Oregon. Stronghold is not 
magnificent in size or staff, as are many castles, yet it is a unique structure that accents the 
prosperous forest it calls home. The history of Stronghold Castle is equally intriguing, and 
provides a glimpse at a landmark that has held strong through seventy years of challenges and 

Starting with Black Thursday in October of 1929, and continuing for many years, the 
Great Depression brought a nation into despair, and accordingly, there was much to write 
about. It was fortunate for a man named Walter Strong that he had acquired the rank of Editor 
at the Chicago Daily News five years before ("search for Stronghold Castle"). Had it not been 
for the good fortune this position granted him, it is doubtful there would ever be a story to tell 
about the legacy of Stronghold. 

In the years leading up to the Great Depression, Mr. Strong made the transition from 
Editor of the Chicago Daily News , to Publisher and Owner (Webster, Jr.). This allowed the 
Strong family, consisting of Mr. Strong, his wife Josephine and their five children, means to 
start building the summer home they had been considering for some time. 

Mrs. Strong's father, Towner K. Webster, owned a summer home in Oregon. Illinois. 
The Strong family, having visited Mr. Webster's home on several occasions, became delighted 
with the forested, undisturbed area. The decision of choosing a location tor their home was 
not a difficult one, and the Strongs began looking for land to obtain In the area ("Presbyterian 
Group to Expand ..."). 

Breed - 2 

In 1928, the Strongs acquired upwards of 360 acres of land north of Oregon. This area 
became the starting point for their family estate. The land was sold to them by Wallace 
Heckman and overlooked the Rock River. It also accorded the Strongs much serenity and 
privacy. Prior to their purchase, this property was untouched and had been just a small 
portion of the vast, unoccupied forest near Oregon, Illinois owned by Mr. Heckman (Webster, 

The choice of style for the yet-to-be built summer home went through its own transition 
during the building process. In spite of the pleasure Mr. and Mrs. Strong derived from visiting 
the great castles of Europe ("search for Stronghold Castle"), their intention was not to build a 
home resembling a castle. In fact, both had a shared desire to model their home after a barn. 
Mrs. Strong's father always felt that a man should have a farm where his grandchildren could 
come visit. This idea did not seem to present a problem for Walter Strong; strangely enough, 
he wanted the design of the home to resemble a giant barn with adjoining silos (Berzin). 

Initial work for the summer dwelling began in 1928 with the construction of roads and 
a stone quarry. 

The ultimate decision to transform the suggested barn into what became Stronghold 
Castle came from two influential sources, the first being that of a business opponent of Mr. 
Strong. One of Mr. Strong's competitors was the well known publisher William Randolph 
Hearst, who was owner of the Chicago American and the Herald Examiner . Mr. Hearst 
occupied the lavish San Simeon Castle, located in California. It is speculated that during a visit 
to San Simeon, Walter Strong was inspired to create a castle of his own, albeit on a much 
smaller scale (Webster, Jr.). 

Breed - 3 

The second influence came from a younger brother of Mrs. Strong, Maurice Webster. 
He was the designated architect of the Strong home, and he stressed his interest in building a 
castle-like structure. With the separate influences working their way into the elements of 
design, a compromise was born. Out of this compromise, the "barn" became the Great Hall, 
and the "silos" developed into a tower (Berzin). 

Though the Strongs' financial circumstances were more prosperous than most, the 
Great Depression was in full swing, and the family had a restricted amount of money for their 
home investment ("Webster, Jr.). Fortunately, the times allowed for cheap labor. Mr. Webster 
called on help from Chicago laborers, but also enlisted local workers for assistance in the 
building of the Castle ("search for Stronghold Castle"). They worked diligently through to the 
completion of the Castle in the fall of 1929. 

Included in the twenty-five room Castle were nine baths, eight fireplaces and four secret 
passageways. One such passageway was built in the library. Upon removal of a certain book, 
the adjoining shelf opened to reveal a hallway leading to a private chapel, which the Strongs 
used as a storage room. Connected to the Castle was the carriage house, in reality a large 
parking garage with upper bunking quarters to house the staff ("Stronghold: 17 th ...; Tour 
Guide). To achieve an aged appearance within the new Castle, the Strongs had the inner walls 
burned with a torch and sanded with steel brushes ("Stronghold Castle" 31; Tour Guide). 

To keep with a family-developed theme, the Strong children and Mr. Strong himself 
contributed in helping with some of the detail work. All of the Strong children assisted in 
creating several of the light fixtures. They also put their skills to work in carving woodwork 
in the Castle, including part of a hutch in the kitchen. The ages of the children, ranging from 

Breed - 4 
four to fourteen at the time of the Castle construction, accounted for the crude yet charming 
appearance of their work. Mr. Strong fashioned the oversized kitchen table out of trees which 
he brought inside for easier construction. He used two trees to form the top of the table, and 
a remaining third tree to create the legs. He also crafted much of the iron that was 
incorporated into the main gate at the Castle entrance, and solely fabricated the iron- work for 
the chandeliers in the Great Hall ("Stronghold Castle" 31; Tour Guide). 

Another familial element added to the home came in the form of two dates carved into 
a beam above the entrance into the Guard Room. Both of these dates, 1632 and 1930, were 
significant to the Strong family. The first date signified the year in which the Strong ancestors 
immigrated into the United States from England. The second date was the year of the Castle 
completion. Also in the Guard Room was a large urn positioned in the middle of the room. 
This centrally-placed urn was the focal point of the room, and of great value to the Strongs. 
It was one of the items the original Strong family brought with them on their journey to 
America ("Stronghold Castle" 31; Tour Guide). 

Further artwork in the Castle was evidence that the Strongs were not blind to the 
suffering of others during the Great Depression. In addition to supplving many laborers with 
jobs during the Castle construction, the Strongs took in a Russian immigrant named Nikolai 
Kasaroff. Nikolai, a struggling artist, was hired to paint an elaborate mural depicting the 
famous tale of Rumpelstiltskin onto the walls and ceiling of one of the tower levels. This level 
substituted as the playroom of the children, and Mr. Kasaroff painted the childrens' likeness 
into the fable, along with that of Mrs. Strong and himself ("Stronghold Castle" 3 1 ; 1 our Guide). 

For the new owners, the dream of Stronghold Castle became a completed reality. 

Breed - 5 
Stronghold was a place where the family could gather around the larger-than-life table for 
meals, cozy up to the fireplace in the Great Hall at night, and relax on hot summer days in the 
sun room overlooking the pool. The entire Strong family found enjoyment in their new haven, 
and were able to indulge in the beautiful interior of the Castle, as well as submerge themselves 
in the vast outdoor surroundings, away from the bustling environment of the urban world. 
"The Stronghold wasn't built to be an oddity. I think you could say it was built to be lived in 
and enjoyed - with the children always in mind," commented the youngest Strong family 
member, Jonathon, on his days in the Castle ("Stronghold: 17 th ..."). 

On Thanksgiving 1929, an official housewarming was celebrated in the new Castle 
("Stronghold Castle" 31). The Strong family had managed to avoid the financial misery which 
crippled most of the country during the Great Depression, and build the summer home of their 
dreams. Unfortunately, Mr. Strong's luck ran out six months later, when he died of a heart 
attack in May of 1931 at age 47. But the Strong story was not one of tragedy or unhappv 
endings. Though Mr. Strong's life was cut short, his end goal was not. The result of his vision 
was something that Walter Strong would be pleased with. He created a lovely environment 
of relaxation and gathering for his family and friends. It was a completed vision and a place 
of refuge. Walter Strong's choice of name for his Castle, Stronghold, proved to be most 
appropriate in reflecting all of his desires for his family home. 

After Mr. Strong's death, the long-term function of Stronghold could have been 
threatened. The remaining members of his family continued to vacation in the Castle during 
the summer, taking advantage of all of the luxuries within the elaborate home, losephine. Mr. 
Strong's widow, died in 1961, and it was at this point when the future of Stronghold was most 

Breed - 6 
in jeopardy. But it seemed that the Castle was prepared to take on the mission of its deceased 

Notice of Stronghold's intended sale was put in the paper, with a price of $225,000 to 
be paid up front ("Stronghold: 17 th ..."). Several individuals and companies took interest in the 
newly unoccupied beauty overlooking the Rock River. The Strong children were hesitant to 
sell the Castle to anyone, but they were pleased to announce in 1962 that ownership of the 
Castle would now belong to the Presbyterian Camping Association of Northern Illinois 
(PCANI), for $175,000, with a $100,000 grant coming from the Dixon National Bank 
("Presbyterian Group Buys ..."; "Stronghold: 17 th ..."). "We hate to sell it," said Jonathon 
Strong, "but I'm glad the Camping Association is buying it" ("Stronghold: 17 th ..."). By the 
following year, all the paperwork involved in the lengthy transition process was completed, 
and PCANI was officially the new owner of Stronghold Castle ("Presbyterian Camping ..."). 

Under this new ownership, Stronghold Castle has the potential to thrive in ways even 
the Strong family had not envisioned. Prior to the PCANI purchase, Stronghold had never 
been open to the public ("Stronghold: 17 th ..."). New intentions for the Castle now centered on 
various churches and youth groups affiliated with PCANI visiting the Castle for retreats 
("Presbyterian Camping ..."). 

Even with these ideal conditions, the PCANI, like many programs first starting out, had 
its share of fumbles. For the first ten years, there was a constant need of new funding. A great 
deal of renovation needed to be done in and around the Castle, and the growing amount oi 
children expending energy within the Castle walls only served to further the need tor repairs. 
There was a dwindling number of donors, and a fire in the warehouse in 1 L ?72 ruined camping 

Breed - 7 
equipment. There was a point during this financial strain when directors were not sure if the 
Castle would realistically be able to continue to operate as a primarily religious organization. 
"We either need money or a change in philosophy, a different direction. 1 don't know what 
direction we would go - not serve the church people?" wondered Rev. Charles Seitzer, in an 
interview with the Rockford Register Star ("Knights ..."). 

The PCANI merged with other Presbyterian organizations in 1974 to form the Bi- 
Presbytery Agency of Camps and Conferences (BIPAC). Only two years later, BIPAC 
disbanded, and Stronghold was handed over to the Trustees of the Presbytery of Blackhawk 
("search for Stronghold Castle"), who still maintain ownership today. 

Stronghold succeeded in getting through these awkward transitions, and with new 
ownership managed to successively cater to a steady group of tourists and campers. 

Some additions were made on Castle grounds during these years in order to serve the 
growing needs of the children and other Castle visitors. Several housing facilities were built 
separately from the Castle on the grounds, including the Hickory House, Sears Center and 
Walnut Lodge. The Brubaker Center was build to serve as a meeting and dining place for 
visitors ("search for Stronghold Castle"). 

Today, Stronghold has evolved into much more. It plays host to a variety of groups 
with widely ranging purposes and interests. It still maintains the original Castle and all of its 
additions, but has expanded to appeal to assemblies more adverse than just youth groups and 
child-oriented programs. Gary Batty, Stronghold executive director, comments. "As the 
population ages and those who grew up going to spiritual retreats and camps age, we find that 
there's a larger interest in adult programs" ("Presbyterian Group to Expand ..."). As part ot 

Breed - 8 
an eventual 3.9 million-dollar expansion, a new center, the Heritage Lodge, has been built to 
serve the needs of the Castle's adult visitors, and also to promote appeal for would-be visitors 
and guests ("search for Stronghold Castle"; Tour Guide). 

Stronghold is now a four-season retreat center, and works hard to maintain appeal to 
a variety of people. It has on-site campgrounds and outdoor challenge courses for groups or 
individuals looking to strengthen themselves and test their physical and mental limits. 
Stronghold also houses seminars, banquets, meetings and family reunions. It has even been 
the setting for films. Gary Batty recalls, "A number of movies, mostly local productions, have 
used the Castle as a location. The most notable non-local production was a movie starring 
Charleton Heston" (Batty). The Castle runs an International Gift Shop and puts on several 
shows during the year, including the Adagio Fine Arts Concert Series and Stronghold Presents. 
It also has an annual Renaissance Festival, the Olde English Banquet and Faire, where men, 
women and children can be observed walking on the Castle grounds in the attire of the 
medieval era ("search for Stronghold Castle"). 

Stronghold has had its share of ups and downs, and has seen many changes on the 
grounds during the past seventy years. The actual Castle has gone through subtle changes of 
its own during this time period. The flag raised from the tower by the Strong children during 
visits from friends had to be taken down after being struck bv lightning, and the Strong 
children took some furniture from the Great Hall during their departure from the Castle. The 
storage room at the end of the secret passageway in the library was finally turned into the 
chapel it was always intended to be (Tour Guide). 

There are also upcoming plans for the Castle and the grounds. Gary Batty comments: 

Breed - 9 
"In the next one to three years we will be adding a new reception area, administrative offices 
and meeting spaces to the Brubaker Center. We will also be connecting Heritage Lodge to that 
complex." He adds, "We will continue to look for unique ways of using the Castle for our 
ministry along with making it available for others to experience its uniqueness" (Batty). 

Even with past and planned modifications, not much has changed. In spite of 
adjustments and transitions in ownership and activities, Stronghold Castle continues its 
original, intended mission of serving as a center for retreat and recreation, relaxation and play. 

Works Cited 

Batty, Gary. "Re: Stronghold". E-mail to Sarah Breed. 21 November 2001. 

Berzin, Jean. "Mrs. Walter A. Strong and Family Summer at Modern Mansion Which Looks 

Like a Medieval Fortress". Rockford Register Star 18 Aug. 1946. Rockfordiana Files, 

Rockford Public Library. 
"Knights With Easels May Save Old Castle". Rockford Register Star 21 Sep. circa 1973. 

Rockfordiana Files, Rockford Public Library. 
Lam, Cang. Postcard. Stronghold Castle . Photo Views, 112 N. Main St., Galena, IL 61036. 
"Presbyterian Camping Unit Acquires 'Stronghold' Estate". Rockford Register Star 28 Feb. 

1963. Rockfordiana Files, Rockford Public Library. 
"Presbyterian Group Buys 'Stronghold'". Rockford Register Star 1 Dec. 1962. Rockfordiana 

Files, Rockford Public Library. 
"Presbyterian Group to Expand Stronghold". Rockford Register Star 10 Nov. 1999: 9A. 

Rockfordiana Files, Rockford Public Library. 
"Search for Stronghold Castle". America Online Service 21 Aug. 2001. Available 

f http://]. 
"Stronghold: 17 th Century Giant in 20 th Century Surroundings, The". Rockford Register Star 

31 Oct. 1962. Rockfordiana Files, Rockford Public Library. 
"Stronghold Castle". Illinois Magazine March- April 1989: 30-31. Rockfordiana Files, Rockford 

Public Library. 
Tour Guide. Stronghold Castle Renaissance Festival 7 Oct. 2001. 
Webster, Jr., Towner K. "The Stronghold". Stronghold Castle. Pamphlet. Fob. L975 

Left and Above: childrens' playroom, 
Stronghold Castle, 7 Oct. 2001 

Below: Guard Room, Stronghold Castle . 
7 Oct. 2001 

Below: "Olde English Banquet &amp; Faire", 
Stronghold Castle, 7 Oct. 2001 



Remembering the Time Museum 


Katty Salas 
Fall Semester 2001 - Rock Valley College 
English Composition I 

Remembering the Time Museum 

"Rockford' s newest and most unusual museum, The Time Museum, will be 
opened to the public at the end of this month." That was the headline in The Rockford 
Register Star, on May 23, 1970. The Museum was opened to the public at noon, Saturday 
May 31, 1970 ("Here is a 'Timely' bit of news"). 

The Time Museum was well appreciated in Rockford for almost thirty years, up to 
the day it closed its doors in March 1999. Its great value for exhibiting different time 
devices from around the world was seen by people in the community and from across the 
country that paid visits to the museum. 

The collection was opened to the public in a lower room at Henricr s Motor Inn 
formerly known as The Clock Tower Resort, first owned by Seth Atwood, a wealthy 
Rockford Industrialist. 

The Clock Tower Resort is located between Rockford and Belvidere. about five 
miles east from the entrance of Rockford College. 

The hotel, situated at 7801 East State Street, has been in the same location since it 
was opened in 1967, the year of its completion. But before the Clock Tower Resort was 
ever built, there was another building in its place, a restaurant. 

The best time to go to the museum was mid-morning or early in the afternoon, as 
the traffic was very hectic and very noisy from so many cars scurrying down the road in 
that part of the city. 

Going east from the entrance of Rockford College on East State Street, travel for 
about two miles. Along the way several shopping centers are visible on both sides of the 

Salas- 2 

road. Saint Anthony Hospital appears on the left-hand side of the road, about half a mile 
from Rockford College. 

At the intersection of Mulford Road and East State Street, there stands a five-floor 
building covered with tanned windows, Bank One. It is on the left-hand side, standing on 
the corner as if it was the only one there. 

Continue on Mulford Road for about three more miles. Look for a sign with the 
name of Perryville Road. Walmart and Lowes are on each side of the intersection, like 
two giants standing watching as people go. About half of mile from there, there is an 
entrance to 1-90. At the next traffic light, at the interchange of Interstate 90 on Business 
Route U.S 20 turn right. 

Salas- 3 

On the right, there is a tall tower with a huge clock attached to its top. That is the 
Clock Tower Resort &amp; Conference Center, where the Time Museum used to be located. 

The Clock Tower Resort &amp; Conference Center covers a space of 27 acres. With 
restaurants, a theater, a conference area, banquet areas, fitness center, swimming pools, 
meeting rooms and suites it was the perfect place to house the museum. 

The resort has undergone several expansions and additions throughout the years. 
One of those was in 1970 when the Time Museum was added. 


Salas- 4 

The collection included 150 mayor clocks (at the time of the museum - s opening; 
with several watches and masterpieces, and right next to them, a card explained its age 
and importance. Louis Romaine was the first curator of the museum from 1 970 to 1 978; 
at his departure, the new curator, William Andrewes, took over. He was in charge of 
caring for the clocks and keeping them running. In the picture below it shows part of a 
tour to the museum where the guide gave an explanation of some of the clocks in the 

On July 10, 1972, the museum was closed for a few days to allow workmen to 
move the collection of clocks from all over the world to the new motef s convention 
center, located in the basement. This offered a better service to all its visitors. There, with 
a new green-carpeted setting, low ceilings to keep the noise level low so that the clock 
mechanisms could be heard, the new place was arranged in nine different rooms, each 
showing a period in the history of time keeping devices. 

Ten years after its opening, the collection grew to 1,500 pieces. 

At the entrance of the museum, at the front door, some examples of early time- 
measuring devices were displayed, starting from the earliest clock devices to the most 
modern clocks. 

Salas- 5 

Some of the clocks included in the large collection were some of the following: 

A reproduction of the astronomical clock by Richard of Wallingford (1327-35) shows one of the 
earliest European mechanical clocks. It employed a verge escapement, the earliest form of escapement. 
which is the device governing the release of power from a clock's weight or mainspring. The original 
Wallingford, destroyed long ago, was a weight-driven tower clock in an English monastery. Its 
astronomical indicators were complex, and were considered more important than the mere hourly striking 
of a bell. It didn't even have a dial to indicate time. 

Elephant automaton clock, Germany, 1 7th century 

Salas - 6 

Iron Movement Standing Clock with Tokugawa Family Crest by unknown maker, Japan, circa 
1780. This unusually large standing clock (yaguradokei) was presented by the tenth Shogun, leharu 
Tokugawa, as a gift to his relative Munechika Tokugawa, who was the ninth governor of Owari-Han 
(Nagoya). This clock stood in the entrance to his official residence. The iron movement is of 30-hour 
duration with double foliot and verge escapements. The lacquered pyramid stand is decorated on the back 
with the design of three-petalled pavlownia blossoms which is the crest of the Tokugawa family. The front 
is decorated with carp, carved in low bas relief and inlaid with mother-of-pearl lily buds and kelp 

In 1981, the museum expanded for the 3 rd time, and it was then located in a 
10,000 square feet of display space. 

About that time, the museum was receiving an average of 50,000 visitors each 
year and it was also already known worldwide for its amazing collection of clocks. In a 
personal interview that took place in October 3, 2001, Nancy Huaracha, a fifty-year-old 
woman, who visited the Museum with her family throughout the years said: "The 
Museum was very nice, it was amazing to see that some people built different objects 
throughout the years to keep track of time, the museum was a definitely piece of art. 1 
was very sad when it was closed." (Huaracha Interview). 

Salas- 7 

Where did the idea of the Time Museum come from? 

Atwood' s son explained in an article titled "Time Featured in Atwood Collection 
at the New Museum in Local Motor Inn." that appeared in the Rockford Register Star in 
June 6, 1970, that his father, a Rockford Industrialist and banker, wanted to write a book 
in 1967 about all aspects of time. Atwood started collecting time devices from around the 
world. People from everywhere, then reading his book, asked him if he would let them 
see his collection. That led him to create an exhibit of clocks devices, and in that way he 
ended up with the museum. ("Time Featured in Atwood Collection at the New Museum 
in Local Motor Inn."). 

Seth Atwood was the founder and Director of the Time Museum. Born in 1916, 
and native of Rockford, he went to college and graduated Phi Beta Kappa. He obtained a 
B.A. in economics from Stanford University, and he also graduated from Harvard 
University. Atwood was a businessman involved principally in manufacturing and 

Salas- 8 

In an interview for the book Masterpieces from the Time Museum he comments: 
"Over thirty years ago I decided to collect important artifacts which would tell the story 
of the development of time-keeping and time-finding. It has been a joy. I have enjoyed to 
travel to hundreds of places not found in tourist books." ("Masterpieces from the Time 

By the beginning of 1984, the museum had over 3,000 clocks in its collection. In 
those years the United States was going through a tough time in its economy, causing a 
type of recession. In that same year, the museum was part of a TV show for the 
Smithsonian World Series, "Time and Light" viewed by as many as 14 million people. 
("Time Out.") 

At the entrance of the museum, the first clock to greet the visitor was an 
astronomical clock made in Norway in 1964. Dorothy Mastricola, the public relations 
director of the museum, talked about that clock in an interview with the Rockford 
Register Star in February 2, 1998. She said: "It is one of the most complex clocks in the 
world, it has a star globe and an Earth globe and the planets orbiting the sun. It is the only 
clock in the world that we know of that illustrates the orbit of Pluto." ("Time to Move 

Salas- 9 

In the corridor, the first visitor's encounter used to be the Technology aisle, which 
gave some technological explanation to the development and history of time 
measurement. Then, in the other aisles, were the American, the Decorative and 
International aisles. Two of the most striking clocks that were the favorite of most people 
were located in the latter aisle. One of them was them was the biggest clock in the aisle, 
"a labor of love" many have said. Made by a man and his two sons over a period of 30 
years, from 1865 to 1895, it was an elaborate astronomical clock that featured the 

In March 13, 1999 an unexpected closing of the Time Museum surprised many 
Rockford residents. The Clock Tower was sold to Regency Hotel Management. However 


the Time Museum did not take part in the deal, the new owners argued that their business 
was the hotel, not the museum. 

The clock devices were then on sale. 

By October, Seth Atwood narrowed down a list of possible buyers for more than 
1,500 pieces. Eighty-one clocks were sold at Sotheby' s in a December auction, in New 
York, for a value of a little more than 10 million dollars ("Masterpieces from The Time 
Museum."). Among all the offers, Atwood opted for The Museum of Science and 
Industry, since it was the only one who wanted to keep the artifacts in a public display, 
even though the collection could not be kept together. 

Salas - 1 1 

Among the approximately 1500 clocks, watches and instruments which were kept by the City of 
Chicago is the Orrery Clock by Raingo a Paris, c. 1820-1824, shown at the left. The clock shows the motion 
of earth and moon. This is one of only 8 known orreries by Raingo. Of the others, one was acquired 
originally by King George IV and is located in the royal library at Windsor Castle. Others can be found in the 
Glasgow Art Gallery; Conservatoire des Arts et Metiers, Paris; Palais de Cinquentenaire, Brussels; and the 
Royal Collection in Madrid 

Today, most of the remains of the Atwood collection belongs to the city of 
Chicago, where the exhibition is visited by more than two million people each year. 

Katty Salas 

Fall Semester 2001 - Rock Valley College 

English Composition I 

Clock Tower Resort and Conference Center. Online. 25 September, 2001 . 

"Clock Tower Resort Sold to Regency." Rockford Register Star 3 March, 1 999. 

Rockfordiana Files, Rockford Public Library. 
"Expansion begins at Clock Tower." Rockford Register Star 30 October, 1 980. 

Rockfordiana Files, Rockford Public Library. 
"Future of Time Museum Collection in Limbo." Rockford Register Star 3 March, 1999. 

Rockfordiana Files, Rockford Public Library. 
"Here is a 'Timely' Bit of News." Rockford Register Star 23 May, 1970. 

Rockfordiana Files, Rockford Public Library. 
Huaracha, Nancy. Personal Interview. 13 October, 2001. 
"Masterpieces From The Time Museum." Sotheby* s 2 Decemeber, 1999. 

Museum of Science and Industry. Online. 3 November, 2001. 
"Take Time for World-Known Tick-Tock Museum." Rockford Register Star 1985. 

Rockfordiana Files, Rockford Public Library. 
"Time Featured in Atwood Collection at the New Museum in Local Motor Inn." 

Rockford Register Star 6 June, 1970. Rockfordiana Files, Rockford Public 

"Time to Move On." Rockford Register Star 2 February, 1998. 

Rockfordiana Files, Rockford Public Library. 
"Time Out." Rockford Register Star 15 January, 1984. 

Rockfordiana Files, Rockford Public Library. 

A Treasure in Toad Hall 

by: Yick\ Lanka 

Fall Semester 2001, Rock Valley College 

English Composition 1 

Lundgren 1 

Vicky Lundgren 
4 December 2001 
English 101 DT 


The Broadway corridor houses many different businesses; some 
are like Toad Ha!!. !t seems to be a landmark like the Stockholm Inn 
is here in Rockford. The building is old, musty smelling and has 
been on Broadway for years, it has been many other businesses 
other than an collectibles shop. The treasure in the building that 
Toad Hal! is in, started long ago when Rockford was just a small 
town. It isn't just the business, but what the building has housed for 
businesses through the years. 

In the early 1900s, where Toad Hall is today was farmland. 
What is now Broadway was then known as 14th Avenue. It was in 
1925 when 14th Avenue got paved and was renamed Broadway. 
There were homes going up all around. The area across the street 
from 2106 Broadway was and still is known as the Rock View 
plat. (Atlas of Winnebago County) That is when the building was built. 
It is located one block east of the railroad viaduct on Broadway, on 
the north side of the street. 

Lundgren 2 

The first businesses to occupy 2102-2110 Broadway was 
Rockview Pharmacy and the A &amp; P Tea Company. Rockview 
Pharmacy occupied the buifding until 1979. While there, they rented 
out the two apartments above it. The A &amp; P Tea Company occupied 
the far east end of the buifding until 1930. These were the offices for 
the store that was across the road from it. 

Throughout the years Rock View Pharmacy stayed while, next 
door, other businesses came &amp; went. There was The Rock View Cafe 
in 1929, Security Market and Piggly Wiggfy from 1928 to 1930. The 
National Tea Company from 1930 to 1935. There is a tattered 
awning still rolled up over the two front windows of the old 
pharmacy. In 1950 a tavern, a beauty shop and a barber shop 
occupied parts of the building. In 1951, two doctors by the names of 
LaPlante and Max Goid opened up their offices in that building for a 
while. Then, in 1978, Kreilmg Upholstery opened and did business 
until 1980. Finally, in 1982 Toad Hall moved in, first into the east 
side of the building and then into the west side as they grew. 

This is a long, two-story, red brick building, that takes up 
about half the city block. On the outside of the building there are 

Lundgren 3 

pictures of a man on the side. In the windows, there are posters, 
comic books, figurines and other memorabilia that one would find in 
the store. There is a long stairway up from the front and up the back 
to get to the apartments, The stairs from the back of the building 
lead up to the apartments. The two apartments were \arge one 
bedroom, with large living rooms, dining rooms, and kitchens. They 
still have the crown molding, kitchen tile, and look the same as they 
in the early 1980s. They had big back wooden porches that we 
would call decks today. One could just walk up and imagine what 
they looked like furnished and lived in. From those porches one 
could climb onto the roof of the building next to it. Some times on 
Saturdays, kids would sneak up on the roof and throw rocks and 
pebbles at people in the street and no one would know where the 
rocks and pebbles came from. (Carl Lundgren) 

Before the present location, Toad Hall was located In the old 
Grand Hotel on Broadway and 8th Street. It was 1972 when Toad 
Hall first opened at that location. People came and went for years. 
As time went on, drug dealers and prostitutes made that area their 
own. Bev and Larry Mason decided to move down the road in 1982. 

Lundgren 4 

When asked why they moved, Bev Mason said, "The place was going 
to hell." Presently, a local church group (Zion Church) is fixing up 
the Grand Hotel and giving it a facelift. In 1982 Bev and Larry 
moved into halt of the building they are now in. When they first 
moved the store to its present \ocat\on they were onfy m the east 
side of the two-story building, After a short time they bought the 
entire building and proceeded to expand. They had a doorway cut 
through the basement wall, so that it could be accessed from one 
side. "It took three days to actually cut the doorway in the 
basement", Bev said. The building has not changed much over the 
years other than the fact that more books, records and memorabilia 
has been added. 

Come on a tour and see all there is to see. First, notice a kind 
of musty smelling old store with muted lighting and a lot of old 
items. One could think that the old items are the best part of go\ng 
inside. If looking for the unusual, one can find information for 
research papers and other things from one's past that they might 
remember. On the first floor when entering, one sees records and 
records, books, a special case with old toys and other old items. You 

Lundgren 5 

will also be greeted by Bev or Jeff who sit behind the counter ready 
to answer questions or help you find whatever you may be looking 

When going upstairs, be careful as it is a Song narrow stairway. 
This was also the old, outside entrance to the apartments from the 
street Once upstairs, there is a special room for the military, 
sections on the Kennedys, local history, railroads, true crime, travel 
religion and for the "guys" a special section on old erotica is all 
upstairs. For the cooks, both men and women, there is an area of 
cookbooks. For the music buffs there are old records, (33's, 78's, 
45's), cylinders, reel to reel tapes, some cassettes, and CDs. There 
is also sheet music, history of rock and roll and posters. The types 
of music that one can find is the amazing thing as they have format, 
classical, jazz, mood, ethnic, ragtime, dance band, rock and many 
others. The different types of music can be found either in the 
basement, the first floor Dr in the building across the street that also 
has records. There are toys, art work and other items from the past. 
The toys, kids section, even a video game, comic books (new and 
old), are on the first floor. 

Lundgren 6 

While in the store one day we were able to ask a customer why 
he comes in the store. His reply was "I can always find something 
really neat and unusual." That statement really explains pari of what 
Toad Hall is about. 

The way that the store got its name is from a character in a 
book that one of the owners once read and found similarities to 
themselves from the book, "Wind in the Willows." The character m 
the book was named Mr, Toad and when he got interested in 
something it became a passion with hrm. 

Toad Hall is a combination of two people's passion for two 
different things. One is Larry's passion for records and the other is 
Bev's passion for books. Bev is a collector of all books, but she 
really likes to collect cookbooks. Larry started collecting records 
when he was seven years old and Bev started collecting books when 
she was eight years old. Bev went onto college and majored \n art. 
She said, "My dream as a little girl was to own a bookstore or to be a 
veterinarian. " She never did become a veterinarian but she did 
become a bookstore owner, thus her dream became reality with 

Lundgren 7 

There is a young man by the name of Jeff Ludack who works 
there. He is interesting to talk to. He knows a lot about what is in 
the store and helps out when Bev isn't there. When asked how long 
he has worked there and why he works there, Jeff said, "! work here 
because I used come here tor comic books and to play video games. 
I also collect hot wheels, enjoy the work and Bev and Larry are like 
parents to me," He started working there part time at first. When 
Nyiint went out of business he became full time. 

The store is known worldwide for its vast collection of old time 
books and records, People come from as far away as Europe and 
California. At the present time they do not have a web site, but are 
working on one. They hope to be up and running in the next year or 
two. Bev said, "I know that is the way of today and tomorrow and 
that will be the yellow pages of yesteryear." 

Toad Hall will be around for a long time yet, as \t is a piece of 
Rockford, unique in its own way with what types of items are sold 
there and Bev, the owner is very knowledgeable and helpful with all 
of the items in the store. So come on in and see for yourself. 


Ferguson, Beth. Personal interview at park. 10 November 2001. 

Ferguson, Brian. Personal interview at park. 10 November 2001. 

Ludack, Jeff. Personal interview. 10-1-01. 

Lundgren, Carl-persona) interview-9-01. 

Lundgren, Carl. Personal interview. 12 November 2001. 

Lundgren, Vicky. Photographs. November 2001. 

Martin, M-personal interview- 10- 1-01. 

Mason, Bev. Personal interview. 10-01. 

Molyneaux, John--Rockford Public Library, Local History 
Room- 1040-01. 

Nicholson, Gage. Personal interview at park. 10 November 2001. 

Atlas of Winnebago County . IL 1947. Page 121. Rockford Public 
Library, Local History Room. 

Pamphlet, Toad Hall . 

Rockford City Directories, various, Rockford Public Library, Local 
History Room. 1909-1982. 

Back view of Taod Hall. V. Lundgren 1 1/01 

17th street. V. Lundgren 11/01 


. . 

V. Lundgren 11/01 

Parking lot signs. V. Lundgren 1 1/01 

Toad Hall. V.Lundgren 11/01 

Corner view of Toad Hall. V. Lundgren 11/01 



The House on the Hill 
Bushnell-Wheeler Home 1856 

Duane Flowers 

Fall Semester 2001 

Rock Valley College 

English Composition I 

Flowers 1 

Duane Flowers 
26 November 2001 
English 101 NCE1 

The House on the Hill 
Bushnell-Wheeler Home 1856 

The Bushnell - Wheeler home stands in the city of South Beloit, Illinois. South 
Beloit is a thriving and growing city. With all the changes of the area, the home still 
stands with age and beauty. This home is the city's only known and documented 
historical marker. Many people of the city know and visit the house for the sites, smells, 
and memories of the past. 

The Bushnell - Wheeler home was founded in 1856. The Bushnell-Wheeler 
home had one founder, but the land that the home sits on had another founder. Mr. 
Bushnell bought the land and, thereafter sold it to Mr. Montgomery (The House on the 
Hill 1). 

In 1841, Mr. Jackson Jones Bushnell graduated from Yale College. He came to 
Beloit, Wisconsin with correspondent Reverend Dexter Clary, who was the Secretary of 
the Board of Trustees of Beloit College. Bushnell had experience with Hudson College, 
which was the beginning of the Western Reserve in Ohio. When Bushnell arrived in 
Beloit, he taught five freshmen students of the Beloit College that Sersno T. Merril had 
been teaching (The House on the Hill 2). 

On May 24, 1848, Bushnell and a classmate from college, Joseph Emerson, were 
elected to be the first professors of Beloit College. Bushnell taught mathematics, and 
Emerson taught Greek and Latin. Being the school's math professor, he shoitl) became 
the treasurer of the college. Becoming treasurer, Bushnell had to make money decisions 

Flowers 2 

for the college. He did so by buying, selling, and collecting interest off of real estate. 
{The House on the Hill 2) 

In 1855, Bushnell purchased the land known as South Bluff, the land where the 
Bushnell-Montgomery home sits today. Land of South Bluff was for Bushnell's own 
interest but soon for the colleges also. Thereafter, in 1 856, Alexander Montgomery 
bought South Bluff from Jackson Jones Bushnell. Montgomery did not pay Bushnell all 
the money at once (the interest was set at ten percent), and Mr. Bushnell held the 
mortgage (The House on the Bluff in South Beloit 6). Montgomery built his home there. 

The new landowner, Alexander Montgomery was a reverend in the Presbyterian 
Church. In 1850 Alexander and his wife lived in Chicago. In southern Chicago he 
served as the American Tract Society for Wisconsin, Michigan, Northern Indiana, and 
Illinois. When living in Chicago, Alexander and his wife had four children. The death of 
three of their children in three years was the deciding factor in leaving Chicago. 

In purchasing the land from Bushnell, Montgomery had plans to build a place for 
the Female Seminary for the Rockford area. But instead he built his family a beautiful 
home on South Bluff. (The House on the Bluff in South Beloit 6) 

Though the house stood in Illinois, the life in it was oriented toward Beloit, 
Wisconsin. The town of South Beloit was not organized yet. When Montgomery 
established in Beloit, he was appointed as the Agent for the Northwest of the American 
Board of Commissioners for Foreign Mission (ABCFM). His work for the ABCFM 
allowed him to be at home. Montgomery took part in religious, political, and social life 
at his home, and occasionally substituted for President Chapin at the Beloit College 
chapel. He also made political speeches, one notable at the rally for presidential 

Flowers 3 

candidate John Freemont reported by the Beloit Journal. On September 4, 1 856 
Montgomery spoke at an outdoor stand "With Interest and Energy" (That was his most 
popular speech by Beloit Journal)(77ze House on the Bluff in South Beloit JO). 

Meanwhile, in November 1857, Montgomery suffered a paralytic stroke. His 
speech and most of the use of his right arm was affected. Montgomery's usefulness to 
the ABCFM was reduced in June 1858. He resigned after, and lived in the home till his 
death on February 1859. 

In April 1860 Laura, the wife of A. Montgomery deeded the home and land to the 
Trustees of the Beloit College. Jackson Jones Bushnell and his wife Sarah was the next 
to occupy the house on South Bluff. The Bushnell family conceived their second son in 
the home. There the family lived happily. Mr. Bushnell went to the college everyday by 
walking or horse and buggy. In the winter of 1872, Jackson Jones Bushnell died of 

The next to occupy the home was William H. Wheeler. Mr. Wheeler developed 
the eclipse windmill that was patented in September 1867. He started the Eclipse 
Windmill Company in Beloit, Wisconsin. It later became Fairbanks Morse. 

There were three more owners to occupy the home. They include the Hoffman's, 
Curatolos, and the Scheibel's. 

Architects know the home as an Italian Villa cream in color. The basement walls 
are measured at twenty inches thick of limestone. The basement housed the kitchen, 
pantry, and storage rooms. A dumb-waiter was used to serve food to the dining area on 
the first floor (The House on the Hill I). 

From the parking area you will see the large three story, cream brick, and 

Flowers 4 

limestone home with a red iron roof. There is a black iron fence with cream brick pillars 
in the center engraved Bushnell - Montgomery House 1856. Also, a long sidewalk with 
cream-colored bricks leads you to the home. A total of six lamp fixtures enlighten you to 
the front porch. The porch is big with stairs on both sides of the door. There are four 
large pillars that offer support for the porch and deck on the second floor. The white 
paint of the porch is peeling off like bark of an oak tree. The door is tall and made of oak 
with a rectangular shaped window set in the center. The glass in the door has a sheet of 
Plexiglas screwed over it. Looking through the glass of the front door is a hallway 
leading to the back door. In the other windows of the home, the glass is good. Even 
though the paint is in the same condition as the porch's paint. The house has a basement, 
first and second floor, an attic, and a cupola. The dimensions of the home are perfectly 

On the east side of the home is a large eight-foot garage door leading to the 
basement. Standing on the ground next to the house the first floor windows are eight-feet 
or higher off the ground. There is a small sidewalk that leads you around the house. 

The north side has the same style porch as in the front, but there is a door hidden 
under the porch leading to the basement. On each side of the stairs there is a very large 
vase for flowers with a plaque reading in memory of Dick and Sue Wright. Also, around 
the porch and along both sides of the house are flowers of many colors: red, yellow, 
orange, pink, and occasionally blue. There are any sizes of flowers from a penny to a 

The west side is a mirror image of the east side of the house. In the yard on this 
side of the house there are three large flagpoles all with American flags at half-staff in 

Flowers 5 
memory of the people who died on September 1 1, 2001 . 

In conclusion, in August 1985, Mrs. Scheibel sold the house on the hill to the 
City of South Beloit. The city's historical society is rebuilding and remodeling to 
preserve the home back to its earlier state of history. 

Entrance to home 
(south side). 

Fence pillar entering home 


l*slor*- frH side ©-f Homes from 
+He t&gt;o-l"l-om 1-He Hill. 




Under the back porch is a door, 
for quests servants to enter. 



Duanc Flowers 
26 November 2001 
English 101 NCE1 

Works Cited 

The House on the Bluff in South Beloit Information Sheet. 

South Beloit Library. NO DATE. 
The House on the Hill Bushnell-Wheeler Home Information Sheet. 

South Beloit Library. NO DATE. 
Hayes, William. "Our Golden History" South Beloit, Illinois 

Golden Days Committee, NO DATE. 

Charles Hanserd 

Fall Semester- Rock Valley College 

English Composition 1 2001 

The Life of the Rockford YMCA 

\'M M 


Charles Hanserd 

English 101 

26 November 2001 

Life Began 

The Rockford YMCA (Young Men Christian Association) has changed with the 
needs of the community and is still changing with the community. Curtis Halton Black 
Achiever Manager calls it "The answer to the world's problems." He says it gives youth 
from all walks of life a chance at a productive life. 

In 1858, the Rockford community wanted all people in the community to have a 
chance at life. Rockford was celebrating its sixth birthday of existence and the big story 
was the start of a YMCA in Rockford, writes I.D Pennock. Many had hoped that a 
YMCA (Y) would be a great asset to the community and many were supportive of the 
idea. Jan Jann, Vice President of Marketing said at that time community leaders had 
joined together to back the efforts of starting a Y. Community activist and businessman 
D.J Stewart and Ralph Emerson were key supporters. They used their community savvy 
to join others together to support this endeavor. As D.J. Stewart said, "This is a chance 
of a lifetime." But in 1 862, the Civil War was going on and this depleted the community 
of young men and the Y wasn't able to grow to its full potential and the idea didn't go 

The community, still wanting a YMCA, supported the first Y facility to be built in 
1 888. The first CEO of the Y was S. Fletcher Weyburn (Pennock). He announced that 
the Y was going to be built on East State St. and North Madison St. (where the building 
still stands today) for the cost of $45,000. Jan Jann said for the next 18 years the YMCA 




served the community youth with social, physical, and spiritual support. Youth would 
gather at the center to play games and meet friends and on Sunday's attend church. This 
program was so good it later became the Rockford Boys* Club. Today the Boys" Club 
works side by side with the YMCA and Rockford Park District to keep programs for the 
youth of the community. 

In 1906, the YMCA had to sell the building because of financial problems. The 
Y had used all its funds for community programs and didn't set aside any funds for the 
upkeep of the building. Over a period of time the building cost too much to repair, so the 
building was sold. The Y still stayed active. Board meetings and adult education 
programs were held in church basements and schools. These programs helped the 
community a great deal because during those times Rockford had a high immigration 
going on. The Swedish, German, Polish, and Italians immigrated to Rockford. The 
different ethnic groups could not speck English, so the YMCA taught English as a second 
language to help the transition. This was part of the changing process the Y had to go 
through. So in 1941, the support of the community proved to pay orT(Jann interview). 
The Board of Directors had assurance from the community that they would support a 
YMCA again, so they asked CEO, Irving D. Pennock. He said, "I was pleased ". He 
wasted no time getting things done with the community backing him. He launched a 
citywide campaign and raised $219,000 for the operation of a new Y (Pennock). 

Pennock envisioned that the Y needed something different, not just a square 
building that people were used to. So he discussed this with the Board of Directors: 
President John R. Anderson, G.W. Aldeen, G. A. Anderson, Charles Andrews, and Seth 
B. Atwood, to name a few. His vision was about serving not only boys and girls, but also 


! ■ 





co-cd and family groups in a program of well-rounded activities. Pennock, the Genera! 
Secretary, what we would call today the CEO, had the job of finding a location for the 
next YMCA. With much thought of expansion in the future, he searched up and down the 
east bank of the Rock River and found at the end of North Madison Street and Y 
Boulevard (then Sinclair Street) an eleven-acre swampland. Barb Gustafson, a lady who 
attended the naming of the l.D. Pennock P.E. Center describes the location as, "A big 
open field where flowers grew and kids played in the creek that flowed near by (Jann 

During that time in the 1960's the Civil Rights movement had evolved. Blacks 
were fighting for equality. This was a hard time for the YMCA's in America because 
their mission statement stated that they didn't discriminate against color, religion or 
inability to pay, but their actions were the opposite. Blacks happened to fit all these 
categories and were not welcome in predominately white YMCA's. Of course these 
actions were not those of George Williams, the founder of the "YMCA." During 1960's 
there were black YMCA's also. The black YMCA's were used for meeting places and 
rallying points for the Civil Rights movement. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the 
ambassador of the Civil Rights Movement, often swam with his family at the black 
YMCA while home from his obligations to the freedom movement (1997 Annual 

The Y was operating out of the a small dark brown building that sits on the 
campus of the YMCA right along the Rock River called the Log Lodge. They would 
hold youth programs, weddings, and banquets there. Burl Manscrd recalls, "cutting the 
rug." That was what he and others called dancing back then. The growth in services of 


the Log Lodge had matched the facility's capacity. There were more than 5,700 junior 
and adult members. The Y attendance had reached more than 100,000 in various 
programs (Jann Research and Copy). That growth prompted the proposal of I. D 
Pennock. People were receptive of the new fitness center being built. The Y had 
become, as it is known today. The year of 1964 the 1. D. Pennock fitness center was built 
and still today serves the changing community we live in (Pennock The Story) 

As the community changes, so does the YMCA. Further growth prompted 
additions to the I. D. Pennock Center. In 1978, an activity center expansion of an indoor 
track, four-wall courts, basketball courts and exercise studio were added to meet the 
growing membership numbers. Again in 1986 a second swimming pool, cross training 
and strength training center were added because of the growing membership (Jann 
Research and Copy). In the '90s the community had become more diverse. This was 
time for a more state-of-the-art facility, so in 1995 ground was broken for a new addition 
to the Pennock Physical Education Center, which now is the workout center complete 
with tread mills, exercise bikes, weight center and free weights to name a few (Charles 

The Y has dedicated growing by developing children and teenagers, supporting 
families and strengthening the greater Rockford community. Programs such as the " 
Latch Key Kids" give working parents a safe place to take their children. It's commonly 
known as Before and After School Care. The hours range from 6:43 a.m. to start time of 
school and ending time is anywhere between 2:00 and 5:30 p.m. Also they put in place 
an event such as the Corporate Cup, which pushes working people to be more concerned 
with their health (Jann interview). 




' • 



I he yMCA commitment to meet the community need. They launches an |» I (J 
million dollar campaign to build a new YMCA facility in 2005 at an 8-acre lot located on 
East Riverside and Pulson adjacent to the Sport Core 2 owned by the Rockford Park 
District, l ne ranc uisinci has donated the land to the YMCA and in return the Y has 
signed a lease to pay the Park District $20 a year for 99 years. The community has over 
whelmingly supported this move. A market support analyst showed 60% of the people 
surveyed supported this idea (Jann interview). Charles Hanserd recalls nis response to the 
survey he received, "I think it's a good idea, bui fti miss my friends ai the old r MCA . 

Jay Dowthard said he'll use the new Y facility. He can go workout on his lunch 
break since it will be closer to his job. He still remembers breaking out with bumps trom 
the chlorine used in the Ys swimming pool and says that there are some things one just 
doesn't forget, cnanes rianserd and Jay were best friends as children and remember 
sneaking into the Y every Saturday because they were unable to get a membership to go 
swimming. In the summer of 1985 Charles remembers his grandfather starting his first 
YMCA membership, and he said, "I was king of the world. 

In 1989, Charles and Johnny Ruckei had oecouie goou menus ana weni to the r 
religiously every day after school to play basketball from 3:30 to 1 0:00 p.m. Johnny 
recalls the employee often being mad at him and Charles. The Y closed at 10 o'clock and 
their ride was hardly ever on time to pick them up. Their ride would sometimes come an 
hour later. 

Charles Hanserd said the Y gave him a lot and it s a passion ofnis to give nacK 
In t999, he met Curtis liaiton, the Black Achiever Manager at the YMCA and liked tne 
program s mission, to heip Black youth achieve their goals and go to college. He iater 





oecame a oiack Achiever himself The piogiam s mission noias iruc. BiacK Acnievers 
hold weekly workshops for high school students to ieain on how to piepaie and be ready 
for college when the time comes, i he Black Achievers consist of adult achievers in the 
community mai nave aueady been tiuough college or are in a professional career to give 
vaiuabie information on what to expect aftei high scriooi. i hey help students find grants 
mat tney couia oe eligible for, apply for colleges they would be interested in going 10, 
and chaperon on college tours. Charles said thai going on the college trips to Columbia 
University, Lincoln University, and Met get iiver College, Made me reacn natuei ror my 

in conclusion, the Y builds strong kids, strong families and strong commuiuties 
by nurturing the heart of the community with over a hundred different programs and 
classes thai meet the people needs. The Y continues to grow with the face pace world, 
and give peopie a piace to slow down their busy scheduie anu enjoy the community and 
family in volatile world. As Charles Hanserd said, "The famiiy and community is where 
it starts. 

Works Cited. 
Dowthard, Jay. Personal Interview. 21 Oct. 2001 
Hanserd, Burl. Personal Interview. 1989. 

Hanserd, Charles. Personal Interview. 20 Sept. 2001 to 26 Nov 2001. 
Halton, Curtis. Black Achiever Manager. Personal Interview. 25 Oct. 2001. 
Hopkins, C. Howard. "YMCA in America" National Council of Yong Men 's Christian 

Association of the United States of America 2000 . 
Jann, Jan Vice President, Marketing. Personal Interview. 20 Sept. 2001 at 12:30. 
Jann, Jan. E.D. Rockford YMCA. 1997 Annual Report. Keeping The Promise of The 

Future. 1997. Photo. 
•Pennock, Irving D., Executive Director Story of The Young Men's Christian 

Association of Rockford, Illinois. July 7,1966. Photo 
Rucker, Johnny. Personal Interview. 23 Oct. 2001 


old \| m c A- 


YMCA Administration Building - Built in 1952 

Dedication of the I.D. Pennock Physicial Education Center in 196H. 

■ '"■"■Vm ■' ' "lV 

— , — : 



Rockford YMCA 
R 200 Y Boulevard 
Rockford, l LL1N0ls 
61 10 7-3094 

56921 ' 

3 9696 10057330 

Rock Valley College 

:) ° ni 

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